Februrary 9, 2013

Walk Hard:  The Dewey Cox Story (2007)
Starring John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer, and Tim Meadows

"It's called Karate, man. Only two kinds of people know it, The Chinese and The King. And one of them is me."
-Elvis Presley

Comments:   Ha ha.  Sorry, I made myself laugh just posting that Elvis quote.  And the great thing is that is only one of about a hundred great little one liners in this movie.  Here is another one.

First off, let me say that I have only seen Walk Hard twice.  I saw it once when it first came out, and then I saw it again a couple of months ago.  And unfortunately, since I have only seen it twice, I don't have a whole lot I can tell you about it.  This isn't one of those movies that I have seen a hundred times and where I can pretty much recite the dialogue verbatim.

What I CAN tell you about Walk Hard is this...

I have lived on this planet for 38 years.  I have seen a lot of movies.  More importantly, I have seen a lot of trends in movies.  I have seen which movies develop an audience, which movies hold up well over time, and which movies in the end are remembered more fondly than others.  After 38 years I am pretty good at picking out which movies will one day be considered a flash in a pan, and which movies will one day develop into cult favorites.

And let me tell you this.  I would be willing to bet a hundred dollars that Walk Hard is going to be a monster favorite one day.  I can almost guarantee you that in twenty years, this is one of those comedies that people will be raving about to their kids.  In two decades this could very well be the next Big Lebowski or the next Caddyshack.  Or the next Anchorman.

Wrong kid died!

I normally wouldn't pick a movie this recent to write about on my countdown (because let's face it, six years is not nearly enough time for a movie to acquire a legacy.)  But with this one feel like I have to.  I am so sure that this is going to become a cult favorite that I am willing to stake my entire reputation on it.  And of course you know Walk Hard was a huge bomb when it came out in theaters.  Naturally.  It came out in 2007, it made no money, nobody went to see it, and naturally because of that, if you haven't seen it, you probably think that it sucks.

Well it doesn't suck.

It is just... well... it is just a little bit different and a little more quirky than you would expect it would be just from looking at the title.

Walk Hard is the story of a fictional singer named Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly).  He is loosely based on Johnny Cash, and the movie is loosely based on the story of Johnny Cash.  But don't get suckered in to thinking this is just the Johnny Cash story.  No way.  It is way more than that.  It is more like if the guys who made Airplane (the Zucker Brothers) took a crack at making fun of the Johnny Cash story.  And they were very high on acid when they were doing it.

For starters, the entire movie is told in flashback.

This is the story of how a young farm boy named Dewey Cox grew up through tragedy and how he overcame all adversity to become a world famous rock musician.

From his very first tragedy, when he accidentally cut his brother in half with a machete

To the day he left home, at the very middle aged age of 14

To the day his 40 year old teenage girlfriend fell in love with him

To the day he was first introduced to drugs by Tim Meadows

I don't want to write too much about this movie, because it is so absurd, and because it is so randomly bizarre (and because quite frankly I don't know it well enough to be able to tell you all the good jokes anyway), but suffice it to say that this movie just starts down one direction and you just have to go with it.  You just sit there slack jawed in amazement at how weird it is and how random some of the jokes are.

Like the fact that Paul McCartney (left) of the Beatles is played by Jack Black

Dewey becomes a big singing star, he gets hooked on drugs, and he has a big downfall.   And then he comes back up again, and he goes back down again, and he comes back up again, and he basically repeats the cycle.  And meanwhile he goes through phases where he mimics just about every single important pop musician of the 20th century.

He goes through his Johnny Cash phase

And he goes through his greaser phase

He goes through his Bob Dylan phase

He even goes through his Brian Wilson phase

And yes, of course he even has a roller disco phase

There is really no way I can do this movie justice in a writeup.  You just sort of have to see it for yourself.  In particular, you should see it if you are a musician or if you are a fan of pop music.  There are so many subtle little music jokes or references to musicians or famous music movies that I am almost positive I probably missed at least half of them.

And I will never get tired of them trying to pass John C. Reilly off as a 12 year old

Like I said at the start of my review, this movie is almost guaranteed to become a huge cult comedy hit one day.  I can almost guarantee it.  I have never felt this strongly about any comedy I have seen in the past 20 years.  You might not like it the first time you see it, you might think it is weird and a little too quirky for its own good, but just wait.  Just give this one a little time to sink in.  Like I said before, this is a comedy that one day you will be telling your kids about.  Heck, I didn't like The Big Lebowski the first time I saw it either.  It kinda had to grow on me.  Just like this one will.

Also, Jenna Fischer's breasts.  Beasley!

I don't have much more to say about Walk Hard other than to say I normally don't like Judd Apatow movies.  I couldn't STAND Superbad.  I think that movie is overrated as hell.  In fact I can't think of a single Judd Apatow comedy that I even thought was above average.  Most of them I think will be completely forgotten in the next ten years.  But Walk Hard is a Judd Apatow movie and this one is different.  This one has legs.  Walk Hard is one of those "forgotten little gems" that is going to be around for a while.  

In particular, the running joke in the movie about Tim Meadows and drugs and how Dewey "doesn't want any part of this shit."  That is easily one of the funnier running jokes I have seen in a movie in a long time.  That is the line that I think about most when I think of this movie.

It's called cocaine, Dewey. It turns all your bad feelings into good feelings. It's a nightmare! You don't want no part of this shit!

I bought Walk Hard a couple of months ago and I am ashamed to say that I have only watched it twice.  That needs to be remedied.   I just wanted to tell you about this movie now, in 2013, so that you don't have to listen to all these people "discovering it" and saying "wow how come I never heard of that movie before, it was hilarious" in ten years.

Like I said before, it might have bombed at the box office.  But there is no way that Walk Hard doesn't turn into a cult classic.

I can pretty much guarantee it.

Oh Dewey, I do believe in you.  I just know you're gonna fail.

* My favorite IMDB user reviews about Walk Hard:

The Wrong Movie Bombed - 28 December 2007
When young Dewey Cox accidentally cuts his brother in half with a machete, it sets him on a long, hard, and winding road that traverses the most profoundly important moments in modern music history spanning the 1950's to today. "Walk Hard" was erroneously advertised as yet another comedic romp from Judd Apatow. While as the co-screenwriter here many of Apatow's trademarks can be found including the usual sophomoric sexual humor and ironic pop-culture references, "The Dewey Cox Story" is actually closer in spirit to the mocumentaries of Christopher Guest ("This is Spinal Tap!" and "Best in Show") as channeled through the spastic colon of the "Naked Gun" films.

This is a parody played hilariously straight. The target of its mockery is so succinct and sharply pointed--the recent Oscar-winning musical biopics "Ray" and "Walk the Line"--that the film's true comedic genius may be lost on people who didn't really pay attention to those films or thought this would just be another "Superbad." The film's mimesis of its source materials is so spot-on, that it even follows their same cadence and nearly falls apart midway as it glosses over many points in history and aspects of the musician's life while covering every cliché possible from the temptations of life on the road with drugs and groupies to bouts in rehab and bitter divorces to long dry periods that suddenly make way for life-altering inspiration.

At the center of "Walk Hard" is John C. Reilly who sings and acts his heart out to hilarious effect. A former Oscar nominee for "Chicago", Reilly has since cut a niche for himself as the second banana to bigger comedy stars like Will Ferrell in "Talladega Nights" and for the first time gets a film to call his own. Tim Meadows is shockingly funny as the friend who ushers in Cox's decent into drug use (his overly accentuated but still deadpan line deliveries are priceless), while Jenna Fishcher is sprite and lovely as the June Carter cutie to Cox's Johnny Cash wannabee. Other SNL players including Kristin Wiig and Chris Parnell and Apatow alumni like Paul Rudd (as John Lennon!) and Jonah Hill pop in and out of the film amidst an onslaught of funny sight-gags and one-liners. Also in on the fun is a cavalcade of current music stars including the lead singer of the White Stipes as Elvis and Eddie Vedder as himself doing a nonsensical quasi-spiritual riff on Cox's legacy while presenting a Lifetime Achievement Award.

The heart of "Walk Hard" is in the music. If you were to not listen so closely, you might be fooled into thinking these were actual hit songs from their respective time periods. Of course, listening to the lyrics is part of the fun. The ridiculously silly double-entendres in Cox's duet with his honey-to-be Darlene are especially funny, while I personally found their spoof of a Bob Dylan song to be downright brilliant. Since the writers took the time to be so verbose and intricate with their nonsensical free-form versing, they allowed the bit to work on multiple levels as both an homage and a biting jab at Dylan's alleged lyrical genius.

Utimately "Walk Hard", in ways both monumentally stupid and unfathomably smart, proves to be almost too clever for its own good. It may have bombed in it's first-run at the box office, but I would imagine it will eventually find its audience. In one pivotal early scene Cox begs his wife to believe in him and his dreams of becoming a successful singer. She replies something to the effect of, "Oh, baby, I do. I just believe you're gonna fail." I couldn't have said it better myself, and it still has me laughing.

A "Walk Hard" litmus test - 20 July 2010
There are only two ways about it - either you think the below dialogue is hilarious, or stupid:

"This... is an particularly bad case of somebody being cut in half. I was not able to reattach the top half of his body to the bottom half of his body."
"Speak English doc, we ain't SCIENTISTS!"

If you think that's stupid, do not watch this movie. You will think that every scene is stupid.

However, if you like me think that's hilarious, then YOU MUST WATCH THIS MOVIE. Every scene is a keeper, even in the unbearably long self-indulgent director's cut ("Is he playing 'Negro Man'?").

This movie spoofs both "Walk The Line" and "Ray", and probably some other movies as well. I can't go more than 3 minutes

"You're acting like I'm some kind of criminal!"
"You ARE, Dewey. Being married to two women at the same time is a crime!"
"What if you're famous?"

without seeing anything else that just cracks me up.  

They've done it again! - 21 December 2007
I must admit that I went into this one already thinking it would be another home run by Apatow and the gang. And they did not disappoint. John C. Reily has turned in his most comedic performance to date which is something considering his roles in Talledega Nights and Boogie Nights.

Johnny Cash probably is rolling in his grave, but in laughter and not dismay. There are just too many classic moments in this film to label it as a long SNL skit as others have done. IT IS A MUST SEE!

I think any review can be summed by saying that this is a comedy rock biopic in the spirit of Spinal Tap with the biting wit of a Mel Brooks film. Just Classic.

possibly best comedy ever -15 December 2009
I've watched this movie around 50 times. Literally one of the funniest movies ever made. It would be great if it was a movie that kids could enjoy as well, but that is my only complaint. 100% adult themes and shows way too much for a responsible parent to allow children to watch.

When I was a kid we had Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and Porky's. This is a hilarious movie, and I suggest watching it repeatedly since there will be a lot of things you will catch and fall over laughing at if you understand the movie at all. John C Reilly comes into a class A acting role with this one. And deserves it.

Great music as well as amazing acting. I cannot recommend this movie highly enough. Love it.

An oasis of laughter - 8 August 2008
I have been waiting a very long time to see a parody that I could even laugh at, and I mean a long, long time. The latest crop of parodies today aren't even trying, and seem to be written just to make a quick buck e.i. Meet the Spartans, Scary Movie 1, 2, 3 & 4. Not only do I think The Dewey Cox story is the best parody ever; I would have to say it could possibly be the funniest movie I have ever seen. Before Dewey Cox Story I thought John C. Reilly was kind of riding on Will Ferrell's comedy coat-tails but now I see the true comedic genius is Mr Reilly. I even recall seeing the poster for this movie in the theater lobby early on and telling myself I wouldn't even consider seeing it, but after seeing Mr. Reilly's TV promo pieces for the movie I discovered he was a lot funnier than I gave him credit for and decided to go see it. I was so happy I did. The laughs are non-stop and the wit is razor sharp. Thanks Mr. Reilly for MAKING me laugh so very hard.

An overlooked, soon to be classic - 7 January 2008
I can understand how this film was a failure. It looks like a typical cookie cutter comedy in the same style of Talladega Nights, Anchorman and the new Will Ferrell basketball movie, but without the star power of Will Ferrell.

I had absolutely no desire to see this movie and was forced to sit through it.

I was pleasantly surprised at how good this movie is. There are gags, spoofs and a constant sarcastic dialog that has so much humor, you will miss it if you do not pay attention. Or you just might not get it. I feel for those people because they are missing out on a lot of laughter in life overall.

I would compare this movie more closely to Anchorman. The difference is that Will Ferrell is a walking joke with incredible star power and John C. Rilely is a bland hard to look at individual.

Surprisingly, John C. pulls this role off. He is great as the sidekick but there are very few roles that he can carry as a lead. For him, this is it and he does a good job.

The one thing that sets this film apart from many other similar comedies is the music and this is where John C. shines. Every song is almost a ripoff of similar song from a genre, but still great songs. The last time I have seen a comedy with great music that was 'original' and this good was the South Park movie, an often overlooked element to a very offensive movie. This element for Dewey Cox sets it apart from the Superbads of the industry.

If you do not go see this soon, it will be on DVD shortly. This will be its time to shine and and people will be saying "Wrong Kid Died" and "I'm Deweys 12 year old girlfriend" around the water cooler at work.

Too many to choose just one - 27 July 2008
Saw this last night on DVD for the first time, and I was in stitches. Maybe because I work in the music business some of the really "in" stuff hit home. Here are the parts I liked best;

1. The Blues scene, where Dewey busts off an authentic blues riff first time out on cutting his brother in half.

2. The way Dewey talks to rock stars, always being sure to use their full names and titles, as if he's helping out the audience. Jack Black as McCartney is classic.

3. When we are introduced to a "fourteen year old" Dewey, who looks an awful to like a 50 year old Dewey, although his band mates are teens. It's another example, like the cars in the Midget scene, where there is no attempt made to make flashbacks authentic.

4. The Brian Wilson "goat session". He had the Wilson beard, man-dress and the over-the-top production of the "Pet Sounds" and "Smile" sessions.

Many more, but in short, this is stands beside "Spinal Tap" as a scathing and hysterical look at the world of rock and roll.  

* My favorite trivia about Walk Hard:

* Dewey Cox breaks six sinks throughout the entire movie.

* Famous musicians that are spoofed by Dewey Cox are: Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, David Bowie, Queen, Meat Loaf, David Crosby, Jim Morrison, Harry Chapin, Don McLean, Elvis Presley, The Cars, Christopher Ward of the Ramones, Nelly, Tim McGraw, Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys during his "SMILE" album period, Stevie Wonder's loss of smell after his 1973 car crash, and Michael Jackson with the monkey and the giraffe as house pets.

* My favorite quotes from Walk Hard:
(there are a ton of these)

Pa Cox: You're not half the boy Nate was. You're not even half the boy that the top half of Nate was after you cut him in half.
Dewey - Age 8: So you're saying I'm less than a quarter of the boy Nate was?

Dewey Cox: I'm so cold.
Rehab Doctor: We need more blankets.
Nurse: We need more blankets!
Nurse: Doctor!
Dewey Cox: I'm so hot!
Nurse: I think he has too many blankets.
Rehab Doctor: Fewer blankets!
Dewey Cox: I'm hot and cold at the same time!
Nurse: He needs more blankets and he needs less blankets.
Rehab Doctor: [gravely] I'm afraid you're right.

Edith: What about -my- dreams?
Dewey Cox: Edith I told you I can't build your candy house! It will fall apart, the sun will melt the candy, it won't work!

Darlene: You know I suffer the same temptations you do. Sometimes when I'm lyin' in bed, I ache for a man's touch.  And by a man's touch, I mean a penis in my vagina.

Dewey Cox: So you've never done nothin' you shouldn't've done to me?
Edith: What have I ever done to you?
Dewey Cox: Like that time you woke up in the middle of the night and drank up all the milk! And then I got up to have my corn flakes and there was none left!
Edith: Dewey, you cheated on me!
Dewey Cox: Oh, so I'm a cheater, but you can just drink up all the milk.

Ma Cox: I'm just so glad you learned to play the guitar so good, even without having a sense of smell!
Dewey Cox: It's okay mama, I learned how to play by ear.

Paul McCartney: [to John Lennon] I'm sick of you being so dark when I'm so impish and whimsical! I'm sick of it!
John Lennon: Hey everyone! I've got a brand new mantra. Ommm Paul's a big fat cunt!

Preacher: [referring to Dewey's Take my Hand song] You think we don't know what you're talking about when you say "take my hand"?
Dewey Cox: What do you mean? It's about holding hands.
Pa Cox: You watch your mouth.
Preacher: You know who's got hands? The devil. And he uses them for holding.

[Dewey meditating with the Maharishi and The Beatles]
The Maharishi: Only through meditation can we begin to understand our role.
Paul McCartney: We're nothing but... grains of sand.
Dewey Cox: That was freakin' transcendental, Paul McCartney. Don't you agree, John Lennon?
John Lennon: Yes, Dewey Cox. With meditation there's no limit to what we can...
[he glares at the camera]
John Lennon: *imagine*.
Dewey Cox: What do you think, George Harrison of The Beatles?
George Harrison: I don't know. You know? I'm just trying to get more songs on the album.
Ringo Starr: And as Ringo Starr, I'm not so interested in meditation, I just like to have fun.
[holds up peace sign]
Dewey Cox: [laughs] I like the little one.

Dewey Cox: [singing] In my dreams, you're blowing me... some kisses.
Darlene: [singing] That's one of my favorite things to do.
Dewey Cox: [singing] You and I could go down... in history.
Darlene: [singing] That's what I'm praying to do with you.

Pa Cox: I'm sorry, Dewey. I just never realized until just this moment how easy it is to cut someone in half with a machete.
Dewey Cox: It is, right?

[on Charlie Manson]
Sam: His music his horrible... but he's a really nice guy.
Theo: Oh, couldn't be nicer.

John Lennon: [to Paul McCartney] I wonder if your songs will still be shit "When I'm Sixty-four."

[after Dewey accidentally barges in a room filled with smoke and groupies]
Sam: [coughs] Get outta here, Dewey!
Dewey Cox: What are y'all doin' in here?
Sam: We're smoking reefer and you don't want no part of this shit.
Dewey Cox: You're smoking *reefers*?
Sam: Yeah, 'course we are; can't you smell it?
Dewey Cox: [Dewey doesn't have a sense of smell] No, Sam. I can't.
Reefer Girl: Come on, Dewey! Join the party!
[she takes a hit off a joint]
Sam: No, Dewey, you don't want this. Get outta here!
Dewey Cox: You know what, I don't want no hangover. I can't get no hangover.
Sam: It doesn't give you a hangover!
Dewey Cox: Wha- I get addicted to it or something?
Sam: It's not habit-forming!
Dewey Cox: Oh, okay... well, I don't know... I don't want to overdose on it.
Sam: You can't OD on it!
Dewey Cox: It's not gonna make me wanna have sex, is it?
Sam: It makes sex even better!
Dewey Cox: Sounds kind of expensive.
Sam: It's the cheapest drug there is.
Dewey Cox: [at a loss and out of excuses] Hmm.
Sam: You don't want it!
Dewey Cox: I think I kinda want it.
Sam: Okay, but just this once. Come on in.

[while Dewey is in and out of conscience in rehab]
Pa Cox: Dewey, I don't know if you can hear me in there... but the wrong kid died!

Wrong kid died

Walk Hard:  The Dewey Cox Story at the IMDB

Walk Hard:  The Dewey Cox Story at Wikipedia

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