Laura CliffordAfter a tragic accident that killed his child prodigy brother, Nate (Chip Hormess), 8-year old Dewey Cox (Connor Rayburn) discovers the blues. His love of music and memory of the late Nate drives Dewey to follow his passion to perform. His long and checkered career spans decades of ups and downs as Dewey (John C. Reilly) does it all, including every drug known to man, in “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.”
It is obvious (and funny) from the start that this is a spoof on the Johnny Cash biopic, “Walk the Line” and “Ray.” But “Walk Hard” is more than that. It is its own film and a showcase for John C. Reilly in the title role. Reilly does it all here: broad comedy, song, music and dance, all while establishing himself as a leading man of great talent.
Dewey’s rags to riches to rags to riches journey is a funny, tightly scripted (by helmer Jake Kasdan and producer Judd Apatow) musical that, for all its spoofing, is an original. The parallels with “I Walk the Line” are handled with great comedy, even in the grizzly demise of Dewey’s brother Nate. Dewey’s propensity for substance abuse, with Tim Meadows as band drummer Sam unsuccessfully warning his friend away from booze, pot, coke, uppers and downers, is handled with wonderful comedic effect.
The cast has a range of SNL comedians, including Kristin Wiig and Chris Parnell, plus a passel of well-knows, including Harold Ramis, Jack Black, Paul Rudd, David Krumholtz and Jason Schwartzman. Jenna Fischer, from TV’s “The Office,” gives a breakthrough perf as the Reese Witherspoon replacement and Dewey’s partner, Darlene, bearing the loyal friend character with freshness. Still, it is Reilly who holds your attention from beginning to end.
Techs are terrific with good attention paid to the varied periods of Dewey’s life from his first meeting with the up-and-coming Elvis (Jack White) and Buddy Holly (Frankie Muniz) and the Beatles in an amusing LSD-laced encounter, including acid trip animation a la “Yellow Submarine.” Attention is paid by the makeup department in aging Dewey and Darlene and the rest some 50 years.
The original music by Michael Andrews has a wealth of songs, including the titular Walk Hard, that are both naughty and nice and well performed by Reilly and company.
Good ensemble acting, a sometimes laugh out loud screenplay (which uses “Cox” to silly, funny sexual effect), great music and staging and a solid performance by John C. Reilly are all good reasons to see “Walk Hard.” Pick any one. You will not go wrong. I give it a B+.
Laura gives "Walk Hard" a B. Kudos to the hilarious dance moves of John C. Reilly and Paul Rudd's fabulously goofy take on John Lennon.
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