Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story - Review by Joseph Wren

Director: Jake Kasdan
Screenwriters: Jake Kasdan and Judd Apatow
Certificate: 15
Running Time: 96 minutes
Release Date: 18 January

It may be that John C. Reilly was working his way up to this. After stealing the show in two other mock biopics – Boogie Nights and Talladega Nights, Reilly, almost always the supporting player, finally gets to take centre stage as Dewey Cox, music legend and notorious bad boy.

Walk Hard takes big, booming shots at the formulaic storytelling of Walk the Line, Ray, La Bamba, The Doors, and the other usual suspects. If you ask me, it’s about goddamned time someone called out this form of lame-ass storytelling. The film’s jokes run the gamut of biopic formulae, from the cataclysmic childhood accident (Dewey splits his brother in half), the lifelong guilt, doomed marriages, drugs, artistic differences, spiritual journeys, clashes with the press, an unforgiving father, excess, and to the repeated destruction of sinks and furniture when it all goes tits up. Along for the ride are a slew of sketch comedy actors, including Tim Meadows, Chris Parnell, Kristin Wiig, a scene stealing cameo by Jack White as a karate-chop wielding Elvis, and even good ol’ Eddie Vedder turns up for the show. But aside from the sink smashing and celebrity spotting, Walk Hard will most likely be famous for a scene about halfway through the film which has Dewey in India, dropping acid with The Beatles - Paul Rudd as John, Jack Black as Paul, Justin Long as George, and Jason Schwartzman as Ringo. I’ll just let you think about that for a second.

Walk Hard is the latest production from Judd Apatow’s team, whose crude signature is, as usual, far too apparent. Oafish looking men share nude scenes with gorgeous women, the protagonists surname is abused for cheap laughs, and Jonah Hill finds his way onto the screen for no good reason. Like all of Team Apatow’s films, the crude jokes and asides unnecessarily distract from what actually makes the film funny. But with all of its flaws, I couldn’t help but tap along to the beat and enjoy the film. The laughs aren’t rip-roaring, but when the jokes get tired, the clever and catchy songs pick up the pace. As a parody, Walk Hard succeeds, though it is only the depth of the talented Reilly which manages to make this feel like a cinematic experience rather than an overlong sketch comedy. Reilly is eminently likeable in a role that only he can realize; his performance as Cox is a gleefully delivered comedic performance from one of America’s most gifted actors.

Spoilers - The Beatles Scene from Walk Hard:

1 comment:

Carmody Wilson said...

Eeeaaaagh! I know it's not supposed to be method acting, but I'm so uncomfortable with how awful Jack Black's accent is! It reminds me of high school plays where the handsome guy plays a prince with a British accent and just...butchers it, but because he's handsome and nice, nobody says anything. It's wrong! It's passive evil!