Starring: John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer, Kristen Wiig
Director: Jake Kasdan
Running Time: 96 mins
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is an American film about the story of Dewey Cox, a musician who worked his way up from being thrown out of his parents’ house for accidentally cutting his brother in half with a machete and holding hands with a girl, to become one of the greatest of all time, only to be met with adversity as the darker side of the music industry takes its toll.
I had an absolute whale of a time with this film. With the same comic ingenuity as some of the best modern Hollywood comedies, a fantastically silly parody vibe that matches up to the likes of This Is Spinal Tap, great performances across the board, and even an engaging and heartfelt story, Walk Hard is a massively entertaining watch at every moment from start to finish, and the perfect way to spend an hour and a half just having fun.
Before we get into all of that, however, I think it’s best to just clarify what this film exactly is. Dewey Cox isn’t a real musician. He never lived, never made any songs, and is just an invention by this film to parody the generic careers of singers through the mid-20th Century, from the rise of alternative genres in the 1950s, to the swinging sixties, and then the downturn as the 1970s arrived.
Above all, the film aims to parody elements of the generic biopic formula, and in doing so makes for some of the funniest moments I’ve seen in any parody film, as the film goes all out to show how predictable these biopic stories often are (particularly taking aim at Walk The Line), and turn that formula into a big joke that runs throughout.
When we talk about parody movies, it’s always a little hard to narrow it right down to one certain type of parody movie. There are mad farces like Airplane! and This Is Spinal Tap, whereas Walk Hard is more of a blend between traditional Hollywood comedy and parody. The parody element comes from its mimicking of music biopics and all of their tropes, where a lot of the humour in the film lies, but there’s also a whole range of hilarious individual jokes away from the parody side of the movie that give the film a little more of an orthodox comedy atmosphere, which I really enjoyed as well.
The main objective of this film is to make you laugh, and it does that on a consistent basis from beginning to end. Whether it’s the purely bizarre and over-the-top nature of some of the ‘drama’ that unfolds throughout, ranging from Dewey’s difficult relationship with his father to the outraged reaction of the older generation to his songs about holding hands in the 1950s, and everything in between, I was really laughing hard at this movie, making for a massively entertaining watch at every moment.
Another reason that the film is so entertaining is down to the performances. John C. Reilly is fantastic in the lead role, putting in a fully convincing performance that brilliantly blurs the line between playing a real musician and taking the mick out of everything about the biopic genre. He’s just as funny as always, but also brings a real down-to-earth and likable touch to the character that helps to keep you engaged even when his life is turned upside down by all of the drugs and darker elements of the music world during the time period.
Alongside him is Jenna Fischer in what is undoubtedly her most entertaining and charismatic feature film role. Proving absolutely hilarious as the femme fatale that takes Dewey away, she leaves a strong impression on the main character as well as you, the viewer, and manages to stand up strong alongside John C. Reilly in every scene, managing to mimic the generic love interest role throughout, while also proving a proprerly funny and enjoyable presence.
On the whole, it’s clear that Walk Hard is a silly comedy that’s there to make you laugh and poke some fun at some overly serious music biopics. However, there is still one slightly more serious element to it that does make it stand out from the crowd of parodies.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is another example of a fresh and hilarious music world parody, but it didn’t quite have the heart and drama of The Dewey Cox Story. This film, for all its silliness, actually manages to engross you in its story and its characters, to the point where you don’t really notice shift towards a slightly less farcical atmosphere in the final act, simply because you’re now so invested in the story.
Of course, the comedy remains priority number one throughout, but as the film draws to a close, I was delighted to see that it took a step back and actually paid a tribute to its own characters, with a beautifully heartfelt and arguably even moving conclusion that ended the film on a brilliantly high note for me, satisfying both my wish for a great comedy and a great story.
Overall, I absolutely loved Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. A fantastically funny film from start to finish, complete with brilliant parodic humour as well as its own comedic voice throughout, as well as two fantastic lead performances, it’s a hugely entertaining watch, but it also manages to go one step further and grab you with an emotionally riveting and heartfelt conclusion that will really put a smile on your face, and that’s why I’m giving it an 8.4.