Starring: John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer, Tim Meadows, Chris Parnell, Matt Besser, David Krumholz, Raymond J. Barry, and Kristen Wiig
Director: Jake Kasdan
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars
"Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" is a broad spoof of rock star biopics that chronicles the career and life, times and personal struggles of legendary singer/songwriter/guitarist Dewey Cox, from his humble beginnings in Arkansas and the tragedy that set him on his path to stardom; his tough early years with his first wife; his rise to superstardom and how Elvis once was his opening act; his struggle with drug addiction (and how he once dropped acid with the Beatles in India); and how late in life he discovered the joy of family and bonded with the 35 or so children he'd fathered during his six decades in the music business, and ended his career back at the top of fame.
As is fitting for a send-up of films like "Walk the Line", "Ray", and "The Doors", the comedic heart of this movie is the wonderful songs. Just as the film paradies moves, so does the music poke fun at popular music throughout the second half of the 20th century. The songs are so well done that if you're not paying attention, you might think they're real hits from the time period they supposedly date from. Particularly funny is a double-entendre laden 1950s-style rock duet titled "Let's Duet", a 1960s protest song expressing solidarity with midgets titled "Let Me Hold You (Little Man)--a song that had me laughing so hard I missed several of the jokes that followed--and a send-up of Bob Dylan's rambling free-form songs.
Aside from a great line-up of funny songs, "Walk Hard" boasts some very funny performances from the entire cast, but star John C. Reilly (who sings and acts his heart out in every scene of the movie) and Tim Meadows (who plays his long-time drummer and friend who gets Dewey hooked on every conceivable drug) stand out in particular. Jack Black and Paul Rudd also has a very funny cameos as Paul McCartney and John Lennon.
The excellent performances grow from a well-done script that offers up humor ranging from screamingly obvious to so subtle you might miss it if you're not paying attention. The story arc of Dewey first coming unglued and then coming to terms with the fact he cut his brother in half with a machete runs through nearly the entire film, but it rears its head in several almost invisible ways, but if you spot them, you discover that this seemingly very simple, somewhat goofy spoof has some very intelligent aspects to it.
If you have a sense of humor and if you enjoyed movies like "Wake the Line" and "The Doors", you'll get a charge out of "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story". You'll like it twice as much if you enjoyed "This is Spinal Tap".