Walk Hard Review
As a director Judd Apatow is a perfect two for two. He is the director behind the very raunchy and very funny films The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up. However, as a producer Mr. Apatow has a mixed record. Mr. Apatow’s past producing projects range from commercially and critically successful films such as Talladega Nights: The Ballard of Ricky Bobby and Superbad to unfunny films that had a poor box office run including Kicking and Screaming and Celtic Pride. Where does Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, the latest film produced by Judd, rank? Squarely in the middle of pack. While Walk Hard is unable to keep up with the consistent laughs of Superbad and Talledega Nights, it is certainly a funnier and more entertaining film than the film’s currently found in Judd’s comedic closest.
The film is a parody of the music bio films that have become very successful lately. The great John C. Reilly who almost always plays a supporting character stars in the title role as the utterly clueless and fictional music legend, Dewey Cox. You can tell Mr. Reilly revels being in the spotlight for once, playing Dewey as a cross between Johnny Cash and Roger Rabbit. Mr. Cox’s showy and necessarily hokey performance makes Dewey Cox one of the great lovable idiot’s in recent silver screen history. The role also allows Mr. Reilly to again showcase his singing talent. John adequately adjusts his voice to the pitch of the many time periods that Dewy goes through. Jenna Fischer plays Dewey’s on again off again love, Darlene Madison. Ms. Fischer’s tongue in cheek performance as Darlene serves as competent counterpart to John C. Reilly’s hysterically exaggerated Dewey Cox. No matter how ridiculous a scene may get Ms. Fischer is always game. The rest of the cast, which is made up of comedic veterans like Tim Meadows and Chris Parnell, is able to successfully keep up with the great performances by the film’s leads.
However, The film’s humor is not as good or fresh as its acting. When the jokes work, they work big, causing the audience to laugh long after the particular joke is over. However, when the jokes miss, they miss… hard. Killing any momentum the film had going. No matter how successful or miscalculated, the film’s jokes are usually over the top, often containing taboos at their core. This style does produce huge laughs in the film, especially with an acid trip scene involving The Beatles. This repetitive joke telling technique does begin to wear on the audience and cause the film too feel much longer than its actual running time.
The film does also feature some very amusing cameos. Jack Black, Justin Long, Paul Rudd, Jason Schwartzman, Jonah Hill, Eddie Vedder, and Jack White all turn in humorous cameos. There is just something so great about Dewey genuinely thanking Eddie Vedder for an introduction while mispronouncing his name.
You can tell that everyone involved in the film had a great time making it. From John C. Reilly’s self-aware and hilarious performance to the film’s countless and often amusing cameos you can tell Walk Hard was a labor of fun for the people involved. However, the film’s jokes are very hit or miss. Never allowing the film to sustain enough steady laughs to make the film a thoroughly entertaining experience.