Director – Jake Kasdan
Writer – Jake Kasdan, Judd Apatow
Starring – John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer, Matt Besser, David Krumholtz
Parodies are not generally my cup of tea. There will be the odd one that I will find something in to enjoy but for the most part I would rather avoid them. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is the latest offering and I am pleasantly surprised to say that I enjoyed it thoroughly.
The film is a parody of the musical-biopic, in particular 2005’s Walk The Line. It tells the story of Dewey Cox, an Alabama born musician who sets out to become a musical icon.
Walk Hard comes courtesy of comedy man-of-the-minute Judd Apatow, the mastermind behind such big successes as The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Superbad. Although he doesn’t take full control here he has co-written and produced the film so his pungent, on-the-ball flavour is all over this one. The film is co-written and directed by Orange County director Jake Kasdan, a man with little experience when compared to some. But despite his somewhat inexperienced touch he brings to the table he seems to show a real flare for comedic direction and this is a sure-fire hint that he will go on to direct many more comedies in the future.
The obvious choice to play the role of Dewey Cox would probably be big-screen comedy regular Will Ferrell but instead they have opted to cast John C. Reilly in the title role. And although Reilly hasn’t necessarily got some of the physical comedic touches that Ferrell offers he still fills the role adequately and it shows promise in the actor for future leading comedic roles. And if nothing else it was wonderful to see such an unconventional choice of comedy actor. I may be in the minority here but I am getting quite tired of the same old Will Ferrell act over and over in every movie he’s in so like I said it was nice to see someone else fill the role that he was the obvious choice for.
Although there is a lot more in the mix here than the simple “boy leaves home to become famous” storyline it is safe to say that Walk Hard is a straight-up spoof of the Oscar-friendly musical biopic. It parodies everything from Ray to 2007’s I’m Not There but primarily the Oscar-winning Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line. But whatever the film happens to be playing on at any given moment it is relieving to say Kasdan and Apatow hit all the right notes in all the right places. It seems to be a trend with recent comedies that all the best lines are in the trailer and as it turns out the film has about 20 minutes of funny stuff and the rest is just filler. Walk Hard, however, had me consistently laughing the entire way through. What also seems to be a problem with comedies, although this is decisively rarer than the mentioned one, is that they have too many funny jokes thus making you miss some or not having enough time to laugh before another comes along. Again not with Walk Hard; the film’s jokes are timed in such a way that it allows for enough time to laugh at one joke before moving onto the next one. This resulted in me having laughed plenty and I walked out feeling very satisfied.
One of the things I found funniest about the film was the way it used the cameo-appearances of different legendary musicians. Usually in a biopic it is painfully obvious when the main character comes across another famous musician but at the same time they don’t really mention flat-out who it is. In Walk Hard they realise this and go out of their way to mention the characters name, in full, every time they talk to them. It’s quite hard to explain unless you’ve seen the film but whenever Dewey meets someone like George Harrison, Buddy Holly or Elvis Presley the movie will set aside a couple of seconds to clearly point out that’s who Dewey is talking to. In retrospect this was the parts of the movie I found myself chuckling at the most and to my enjoyment it happens fairly frequently throughout.
I can’t really think of anything overly major about the film that I could complain about. I guess by the end of the film the jokes seemed to dry up, as did the story and by the very end it seemed like they didn’t know how to end it. And also the film sometimes didn’t seem as if it was being pushed to its full potential, some of the jokes seeming as if they could have been polished a bit more. But those are minor gripes on my part and I can easily forgive them because the rest of the movie is so funny.
I didn’t expect this film to be half as funny as it turned out to be, mostly because of the track-record of comedies having the best bits in the trailer. Luckily the film has much more to offer than the trailer-shown gags, including some fine comedic performances from John C. Reilly and pretty much the rest of the cast. It won’t win any Oscars by any means, with maybe the exception of “best original song”, but is that what was expected? Apatow seems to be tickling the movie going public’s funny bone at the moment and I am sure he has a lot more up his sleeve before his time is up.
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