“Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” is a ham-fisted parody of musical biography films that’s not nearly as funny as its makers believe it is. The script was co-written by the criminally overrated Judd Apatow and Jake Kasdan (son of director/writer Lawrence Kasdan). Kasdan also directed, if that is the word.
The Johnny Cash biography film “Walk the Line” (2005) being an obvious model here, “Walk Hard” gives us Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly) as a dim bulb of a man who enjoys great success as a country singer in the 1950s. The film follows his life as he changes musical styles and goes through an assortment of women, drugs and decadence before finding contentment as an old man, scarred by life but ultimately triumphant.
I guess the musical biography genre could be a ripe one for parody, but not under Apatow’s hand. Jokes are sledge hammered with all the subtlety of someone yelling in your face. A meeting with the Beatles is painfully unfunny and goes on forever, with the different Beatles continually calling each other by their names, as if we’re too stupid to get the jokes. (Apatow has an annoying habit of force feeding jokes two and three times until he’s sure we get it.)
Reilly is OK in the role I guess, but he’s never remotely likeable. Jenna Fishcher plays wife number two Darlene, a character who is an obvious riff on June Carter Cash, but that’s as far as the joke goes.
Tim Meadows is the film’s bright spot as a band member who leads Dewey into all kinds of temptations. When he’s on the screen the film achieves its best moments, but the rest of it is truly painful to sit through.
I saw this movie three days ago and can barely remember anything else about it.
Apatow is the hot thing in Hollywood right now thanks to the inexplicable success of “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”, “Knocked Up” and “Superbad” (which I enjoyed) and it appears he can do no wrong in the eyes of many. Until “Walk Hard” which bombed big time. Good. A few years ago the Farrelly Brothers were the hot commodity, but now their films barely cause a ripple. Maybe the same thing will happen to Apatow. His penchant for celebrating men who have the emotional maturity of 10-year-olds is already getting real stale.
Rating for “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story”: One-and-a-half stars.