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Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007).

August 13, 2010

The Scoop:
Dewey Cox is a slightly dim, hard scrabble poet of the American experience, who rises from poverty and tragedy to become an outlaw musical hero despite his battles with drugs and his temper.

And in telling Dewey’s story in “Walk Hard,” John C. Reilly, Jake Kasdan and Judd Apatow have created pitch-perfect parody the conventional Oscar bait biopic.

The obvious inspiration here is Johnny Cash, and Kasdan and Apatow borrow liberally from his biography for material for their script. What’s more, Kasdan (who also directs) adopts and parodies the look and style of James Mangold’s 2005 Cash biopic “Walk the Line” to great effect.

It’s also wonderful to see perennial sidekick Reilly step out and carry his own movie. It’s obvious that he’s got the comedy chops to be a big star, but what wasn’t obvious before “Walk Hard” is the quality of his musical chops as well.

Music is an important part of Kasdan and Apatow’s storytelling process here. The film’s soundtrack, produced by Marshall Crenshaw, is superb, crossing genres from country to rockabilly to folk to disco to hip hop. And not only does Reilly perform all his own vocals, but he also plays guitar on most of the tracks and participated heavily in the songwriting process.

Besides Reilly, the cast is filled with familiar faces — including Jenna Fisher (“The Office”), Harold Ramis (“Ghsotbusters”), Kristen Wiig and Tim Meadows (“Saturday Night Live”), as well as Apatow regulars like Ed Helms and Jonah Hill — all of whom give nice performances.

The humor, often more subtle than you might expect from Apatow, is uneven, particularly in the early scenes. But the film quickly settles into a groove that delivers consistent laughs and culminates in the obligatory big concert number (“Beautiful Ride”) that shows the genuine heart at the core of the film. Thanks to Reilly, Kasdan and Apatow, it’s a beautiful ride indeed.

Best Bit:
The scene in which Dewey goes to India to meet the Beatles, played in uncredited cameos by Jack Black (Paul), Paul Rudd (John), Justin Long (George) and Jason Schwartzman (Ringo). The bickering between the Fab Four was largely improvised and the DVD includes an extended cut of the scene which is actually funnier than what wound up in the movie.

Side Note:

Companion Viewing:
“Walk the Line” (2005).

Official site.

Take a Look:
The trailer:

The title song:

Dewey meets the Beatles:

“Let’s Duet”:

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