Sony // 2007 // 96 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // April 1st, 2008
"It ain't easy to walk to the top of a mountain, it's a long, hard walk. It's a rocky road. But I plan on walking. Oh, I'm gonna walk. Hard. I will walk hard."
"If your boner lasts for more than four hours...call more ladies!"
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story follows the career of rock legend, Dewey Cox. Having "served" 411 women (resulting in 22 children) and been friends with everyone from Elvis to The Beatles, dabbling in every banned substance known to man along the way, Dewey has seen and done it all.
Yet Dewey is a haunted man, and as he find himself in the later years of his life, realizes he must make peace with his past if he is to ever be truly happy.
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story: 2-Disc Unrated Edition provides a few extras as it introduces viewers to the legend that was Dewey Cox.
I can't be the only one who has noticed Judd Apatow's name on the credits of some of the best comedies of recent years -- from The 40 Year Old Virgin to Superbad, his name seems synonymous with guaranteed laughs and, sure enough, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, which he co-wrote (as well as produced) with director Jake Kasdan, continues his run of hits. Utilizing Apatow's trusty formula of big (sometimes stupid or gross) laughs and a warm heart, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is a film that pokes fun at biographical movies, such as Walk the Line or Ray, but never loses sight of telling its own story; it never falls into Scary Movie territory and ends up as a succession of poor spoofs.
By taking the same template that has served numerous biopics so well for decades, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story begins with an older Cox preparing to go on stage for his comeback performance. As the excited audience awaits his appearance, with the stage manager desperate for his star performer to take to the stage, the film takes its first swipe at biographical movies when Sam, Dewey's drummer, informs the stage manager, "You're gonna have to give him a moment, son. Dewey Cox needs to think about his entire life before he plays." The film then whisks us back to 1946, and the fateful day that forever shaped Dewey's life when a play fight with machetes, between Dewey and his brother, ends in hilarious tragedy, made even funnier thanks to the brothers' earlier declaration that, "Ain't nothin' horrible gonna happen today."
Taking in the death of a brother, drug addiction, prison, and consequent saving by his future wife, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story clearly has Walk the Line and Johnny Cash as its main inspiration. By predominantly sticking to just the one target, only throwing in occasional references to Brian Wilson, Ray Charles, Elvis, and Jim Morrison, the character of Dewey Cox, and the film as a whole, remains far more focused and stands as one of the better parodies of recent years.
Musical comedy is a tricky beast to master, the results frequently turning out to be cringe-worthy. Going into Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, I'll admit I had serious trepidations, yet it pleased me no end to find the songs in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story were often as good as anything to be found in This is Spinal Tap. From Dewey's song for midget rights "Let Me Hold You (Little Man)," to his Dylanesque "Royal Jelly" and the filth-ridden "Let's Duet," the songs featured are well-structured and catchy numbers that, while often hysterically funny, don't feel the need to throw in a corny joke every other line.
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story benefits greatly from its cast. John C. Reilly (Boogie Nights) really commits to the role of Dewey Cox and shows he's more than capable of taking center stage, rather than being the support player his career has frequently seen him to be. Whether it be pulling at our heartstrings as an older, and slightly wiser, Dewey Cox learning what's really important, or as a younger, madder Cox going on a Hulk-style, drug-fueled rampage, Reilly puts everything he's got into the role; his efforts during the musical numbers are especially praiseworthy. Jenna Fischer (Blades of Glory) as Dewey's true love, Darlene, has a great chemistry with Reilly; the two bounce jokes off each other throughout, their innuendo-filled duets being another of the film's highlights. Though in a far smaller role, Tim Meadows manages to stand out from the crowd as Dewey's drummer, Sam; his introducing of the latest drug of choice to Dewey providing the film with some of its funniest lines. The film also benefits from numerous cameo performances that are as excellent as they are unexpected. From Jack White as an incoherent Elvis Presley, constantly threatening Dewey with a karate chop to the neck, to Jack Black, Paul Rudd, Justin Long, and Jason Schwartzman as The Beatles (who share an LSD-induced cartoon "trip" with Dewey); not one cameo is wasted.
The 2.40:1 anamorphic transfer is pretty good, if not great, the image is occasionally a little soft and darker scenes suffer from a lack of detail. There is also a problem with artifacting, which loses the transfer some points but is certainly nowhere near bad enough to affect your viewing experience. The discs 5.1 soundtrack proves to be even better, helping the musical numbers most, so that the film's concert scenes have some real kick.
This two-disc edition of Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story has extras aplenty. The most obvious standout being the "American Cox: The Unbearably Long, Self-Indulgent Director's Cut." At around 24 minutes longer than the theatrical cut, the unrated director's cut does have a lower hit rate when it comes to the jokes, but even so, it contains enough extra for fans of the film to enjoy. For my money, the theatrical cut plays better; the longer running time of the director's cut leads to a less cohesive final product. The various outtakes and deleted scenes are sure to raise a laugh and the "Cockumentary" is certainly a feature that is unique to this release.
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story does suffer from the occasional bum note. Though hardly fatal, a few sequences fall a little flat and the films natural rhythm is lost. Most of these problems come around the film's final act where the sentiment begins to take over, pushing the humor into second place. Whereas, say, The 40 Year Old Virgin was able to maintain a near-perfect equilibrium between sentiment and comedy throughout, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story seems to struggle balancing the two.
Some viewers are likely to find the near-constant stream of double-entendres tiresome; from the cry of "I need Cox" during the film's opening sequence, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story isn't shy of resorting to lowbrow gags. Personally, I found myself laughing along with them, but I can't help but think such juvenile humor won't wash with some viewers.
A little patchy in places admittedly, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story still delivers plenty of laughs and some fine standout moments. John C. Reilly serves up a fantastic performance and is supported by a superb cast that is rich with comedic talent. It lacks the greatness of Knocked Up and Anchorman perhaps, but to ignore Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story would mean missing out on the classic song "Let's Duet" (the lyrics of which I'd dearly love to include here, but really don't want to ruin for anyone) and the most gratuitous use of a shriveled male member you're ever likely to see.
Not guilty. I urge you all to embrace the Cox.
Review content copyright © 2008 Paul Pritchard; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* American Cox: The Unbearably Long, Self-Indulgent Director's Cut
* Deleted and Extended Scenes
* Cox Sausage Commercials with Outtakes
* A Christmas Song with Dewey Cox
* Song Demos
* The Making of Walk Hard
* The Last Word with John Hodgman
* Eight Full Song Performances
* The Music of Walk Hard
* The Real Dewey Cox
* Commentary with Jake Kasdan, Judd Apatow, John C. Reilly, and Lew Morton
* Official Site