Review of “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” (2007) R 96min
December 21st, 2007 by Maxim · 3 Comments · 5,952 Views
The plot: America loves larger-than-life musician and songwriter Dewey Cox (a composite character in whom you can recognize Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, Johnny Cash and others). But behind the music is the up-and-down-and-up-again story of a musician whose songs would change a nation. On his rock ‘n roll spiral, Cox sleeps with 411 women, marries three times, has 22 kids and 14 step-kids, stars in his own 70s TV show, collects friends ranging from Elvis to the Beatles to a chimp, and gets addicted to – and then kicks – every drug known to man… but despite it all, Cox grows into a national icon and eventually earns the love of a good woman – longtime backup singer Darlene (Jenna Fischer).
*** This paragraph may contain spoilers. *** The movie starts when little 6-year old Dewey and his brother go the barn to play with machetes, and his brother says, “ain’t nothing horrible going to happen today”, and surely enough, Dewey accidentally cut him in half with a machete. Sounds familiar? Wait, there’s more: his dead brother appears to Dewey and tells him to “live for both of them”. So Dewey receives his brother’s musical skills like Harry Potter inherited Voldemort’s magic and as a side-effect ages twice as fast. The man you see on the poster is both 14-year old and 30 year old Cox. Since Dewey is suffering from his brother’s death, he loses his sense of smell – a parody of Ray Charles’s blindness. His father throws him out of home and Dewey works as a janitor in the 50’s black-owned erotic dance club…. I think that’s as far as I will go in revealing the plot because this is the funniest part of the movie. From that point it’s mostly downward spiral.
The good: kudos to the sound engineers and John C Reilly for great performance on stage. His acting was pretty darn good (considering the quality of material he had to work with). Some jokes and characters were pretty funny. The Beatles in India were hilarious. The parodies of various pop stars such as Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash are relatively funny as long as new parodies are introduced quickly and the same parody is not done for too long. The jokes are unexpected and I did not see them coming. I loved Dewey’s drummer Sam (Tim Meadows) when he was simultaneously convincing and discouraging Dewey from experimenting with increasingly more dangerous drugs.
The bad: too many “cox” jokes, and not just too many: the quality of jokes was so bad I could only compare them to Borat – unless you are fan of gross-out jokes. Pretty dumb dialogs, lousy characters and story. The culmination of the “cox” jokes was a naked man who showed his balls on the camera – twice in the movie. After some scenes I was tempted to leave the theater.
The verdict: a few chuckles but not that funny. This movie should have been sent directly to DVDs. Well, it may be better to use that vinyl to make guitar picks. This movie is purely late-night Comedy Central material or worse, alongside with other spoofs like Scary Movie, Epic Movie etc. There were some people who walked out of the theater quite pleased, but vast majority were silent as if they just realized the “the king is naked” or if they were lied to. “A Mighty Wind” was a much better movie in the same style, but without the gross-out jokes.
The film is nominated for 2 Golden Globes: for best song in the movie (Walk Hard can be a new Rock ‘n’ Roll classic) and best performance by an actor in musical or comedy. I don’t agree but I can rationalize that John C Reilly had done the best he could with crappy material.
As far as Judd Appatow and his sidekick go, I am very disappointed. They must have been high on the success of Knocked Up (success only in US) and Superbad, but the dialogs were often so bad it felt like writers were trying really hard to come up with ideas.
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