Give Him a Minute Son, Dewey Cox Has His Life to Think About...
Dec 23, 2007 (Updated Aug 10, 2008)
Review by thevoid99
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.
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Throughout the history of popular music, there's been icons who ruled the world. Sinatra, Elvis, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, U2, 2Pac, Biggie, Nirvana, Radiohead, and many others. Yet, none of them are as big or as powerful as a man who claimed to have cut his brother in half, climbed mountains higher than Mount Everest, ruled the charts, and have his own sausages. He's Dewey Cox who is defined by his song Walk Hard as he walked harder than everyone and... Ok, he doesn't even exist. Still, with music bio-pics becoming stale with the genre not being reinvented by many, it was inevitable for parody. Who better to make into parody than the current King of Comedy Judd Apatow as he brings the fictional life of Dewey Cox to the big screen entitled Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.
Directed by Jake Kasdan which he co-wrote and co-produced with Judd Apatow, Walk Hard is about the life of Dewey Cox who rose to fame in creating groundbreaking music, have strange assorted pets, meets the Beatles and Elvis, sleeps with many women, and have many kids, step-kids, and grand-children. Playing the role of the fictional character is John C. Reilly who ventures into the man's life through the many years of the music world. Also starring Jenna Fischer, Kristen Wiig, Tim Meadows, plus Apatow regulars Paul Rudd, Martin Starr, Harold Ramis, Jane Lynch, and Jonah Hill, with appearances from Jack Black, Jack White, Jason Schwartzman, Justin Long, Frankie Muniz, Eddie Vedder, and many more. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is a whimsical, entertaining, and certainly hilarious spoof on the musical bio-pics.
It's a music award show as Dewey Cox is about to play his first show in 25 years as he is thinking about his whole life before this moment. Growing up as a young boy (Conner Rayburn) was always in awe of his older brother Nate (Chip Hormess) for his talents. During a day when the two were playing, an accident that involved a machete turned bad when Dewey accidentally cut Nate in half. Deweys father (Raymond J. Barry) is upset as he keeps telling Dewey, "the wrong kid died" while his mother (Margo Martindale) is convinced it was an accident as Dewey loses his sense of smell. Then one day when getting something for his mother, little Dewey meets a bluesman (Honeyboy Edwards) as Dewey's gift for music is unveiled.
At age 14, Dewey does a talent show where he brings both shock and furor with his song Take My Hand that makes the young crowd want to get it on but Dewey was perceived as the Devil as his father tells him, "the wrong kid died". Dewey leaves home as he takes his 12-year old girlfriend Edith (Kristen Wiig) to a life of their own. Dewey gets a job working as a janitor at a soul club where he mimicked Bobby Shad (Craig Robinson) until an accident made Dewey the singer where he got signed by three Jewish talent agents named L'Chai'm (Harold Ramis), Maseltov (Phil Rosenthal), and Schmendrick (Martin Starr). After getting a record deal for a song he got in his head called Walk Hard, Dewey becomes a hit as he is accompanied by his band that included guitarist Dave (Matt Besser), bassist Theo (Chris Parnell), and drug-taking drummer Sam (Tim Meadows) who would introduce Dewey to numerous drugs.
Dewey becomes a huge success as he gets many children with Edith and a number of groupies along with a giraffe and a monkey. Then as Dewey begins to hit hard times despite playing a show with Buddy Holly (Frankie Muniz) and Elvis Presley (Jack White), he finds his salvation in a beautiful, sexy, hot young woman named Darlene Madison (Jenna Fischer). They score a hit with the song Let's Duet in which their attraction rises as they get married until Darlene learns that he's already married to Edith prompting a double divorce. Dewey's life falls apart yet he still makes hit until finally, he goes to rehab. With Darlene returning to his life, he re-emerges as a folk singer with a classic song called Royal Jelly and a song about small people. Dewey, Darlene, and the band go to India to meet the Beatles as he notices a rift between John Lennon (Paul Rudd), Paul McCartney (Jack Black), George Harrison (Justin Long), and Ringo Starr (Jason Schwartzman) as they introduce him to LSD.
Suddenly, Dewey's acid trip makes him into a perfectionist obsessed with creating the perfect song as everything falls apart again where the ghost of Nate (Jonah Hill) appears to get his life on track. Unfortunately, Dewey's manager Schwartzberg (David Krumholtz) got him on television doing a dumb variety show where an interview a reporter (Jane Lynch) got him to deal with demons. After a break from the world and a song-block, Dewey reunites with Darlene as he is finally finds a miracle and inspiration as he's coaxed by L'Chai'm's son Dredel (Simon Helberg) to take a show to receive his lifetime achievement as Dewey realizes he did a lot of great things, and more.
With film bio-pics often telling the story about an artist rising from humble beginnings, get signed, becomes a big star, gets into drugs, rehab, and a bunch of stuff. It's a cliche that's starting to happen with most film bio-pics about musicians. Notably that's been created in films like Taylor Hackford's Ray about Ray Charles and James Mangold's Walk the Line about Johnny Cash that is starting to become parody as more bio-pics about musicians and singers are on their way. That's why Jake Kasdan and Judd Apatow decided to make fun of these cliches in creating a fictional singer in a similar format in Rob Reiner's classic film This is Spinal Tap. While the character of Dewey Cox is somewhat based on Cash, there's also a mix of Ray Charles, Brian Wilson, Elvis, Bob Dylan, and many others into a character that is just as egotistical and idiotic as these fellow artists.
The script by Kasdan and Apatow is definitely genius as it plays with the cliches while creating moments in the film that are downright funny from the repeated breakdowns of Cox to his drug use. A lot of the film's raunchy humor that included appearances from naked people is definitely Apatow in all of his glory. Kasdan's direction is very stylish from the colorful, over-lit look of Cox's early years to the grainy footage of Don't Look Back/Eat the Document period of Cox trying to be Bob Dylan. The whole film works overall in all of its humor and drama as it plays like a bio-pic and spoof. The only real major complaint about the film is that for its 96-minute running time, it's not long enough. Largely because some of the material that appeared in the trailer including Cox's sausages, more of the disco-variety show stuff, Patrick Duffy getting punched, Cox's third wife Cheryl Cox Tiegs, and additional scenes with the Beatles were left on the cutting room for. Hopefully, they release an extended, uncut version of the film on DVD.
Cinematographer Uta Briesewitz does some wonderfully stylish photography to convey each different period from the colorful lighting in the 50s and early 60s sequence to the grainy black-and-white look of Cox as Dylan, to the slick look of the 70s. Editors Tara Timpone and Steve Welch do great work with the film's editing for its leisurely pacing and cutting style to show Cox's moments and triumphs that is very solid. Production designer Jefferson Sage and art director Domenic Silversti do excellent work with the film's varied period looks from the wooden, farm look of Dewey's childhood home to the 70s couches and such.
Costume designer Debra McGuire does great work with the varied period costumes of Dewey's world that is lovely to watch while showing Darlene in all of her sexy look in different period clothing. Hair stylist Michelle Payne and a team of makeup artist do great work with those different periods from the teddy-boy look to the Dylan fro and 70s long hair along with the aging for the film's third act. Sound designer Robert Grieve and editor Joel Shryack do great work with the film's sound to convey the world that Dewey is in. Visual effects supervisor Evan Jacobs does great work to convey the look of Dewey's vision of his ghostly family along with a hilarious animation sequence involving Dewey and the Beatles.
Then there's the film's music and soundtrack with a wonderfully upbeat score from Michael Andrews who is also one of the film's songwriters in the many original songs created. Contributing to the writing aren't just Jake Kasdan, Judd Apatow, and John C. Reilly but indie-pop legend Marshall Crenshaw, Mike Viola, Dan Bern, and many more as the songs range from country, folk, mariachi, punk rock, hip-hop, psychedelia, and a hilarious disco cover of David Bowie's Starman. All of the songs are sung by Reilly himself with Angela Correa as the singing voice of Darlene for Let's Duet. Many of the songs including various versions of Walk Hard performed by Jackson Browne, Jewel, Lyle Lovett, and Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan are hilarious with funny lyrics as the soundtrack is a real highlight of the film.
The film's cast assembled by Anya Colloff and Amy McIntyre Britt is pure genius as appearances from Deanna Brooks and Angela Little as lovely groupies, Jacques Slade as rapper Lil' Nutzzak who did a remake of Walk Hard, Chip Hormess as young Nate, Connor Rayburn as the young Dewey Cox, Rance Howard as a preacher, Paul Bates as a nightclub manager, John Ennis as the Big Bopper, Phil Rosenthal as Jewish talent agent Mazeltov, and Simon Helberg as Dredel L'Chai'm are funny. Cameo appearances from Jewel, Lyle Lovett, Jackson Browne, Ghostface Killah, the Temptations, and Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder are fun to watch while Jack White of the White Stripes does a hilarious impression of Elvis Presley. Frankie Muniz is also funny as Buddy Holly but none of the cameos could ever top the casting of the Beatles whom are all funny.
Justin Long is a great George Harrison complaining about wanting to put more songs on the album while Jason Schwartzman is funny making faces and often commenting about writing a song about an octopus. Jack Black is a hoot as a huge Paul McCartney claiming he's the leader of the band while saying obscene things while Paul Rudd is pitch-perfect as John Lennon. If there is anyone who will make a Beatles movies, seriously, you got these guys. It can't go wrong. Raymond J. Barry is funny as Pa Cox who has a great one liner, "the wrong kid died" while Margo Martindale is great as Ma Cox.
The appearances from Apatow regulars Jane Lynch as a reporter, Jonah Hill as the ghost of Nate, Craig Robinson as singer Bobby Shad Martin Starr & Harold Ramis as Jewish talent agents, and Kristen Wiig as Cox's first wife Edith are all funny in their memorable scenes with Wiig doing some funny drama with some great one-liners. Hill meanwhile, is another scene-stealer as he looks like a more attractive version of Tobey McGuire with the hair he's given.
David Krumholtz is great as Cox's manager Schwartzberg who convinces Cox to go on TV while Matt Besser and Chris Parnell are great as two of Cox's bandmates with Besser as the frustrated guitarist whose wife always sleeps with Cox and Parnell as the loving friend. Tim Meadows is a true scene-stealer for every scene he's in that involves drugs as he tells Dewey to not do them and such and then have this repeated line "you never paid for the drugs". Jenna Fischer is gorgeous as the sexy, hot, ravishing, exotic, and luscious Darlene who wows Dewey while conveying the sexual tension the two have as she becomes his shining light. Fischer's performance is very funny as she and Reilly have great chemistry both comedic and in dramatic performances.
Finally, there's John C. Reilly in what is a long-overdue star-making performance as the title character of Dewey Cox. Playing the man when he's 14 to the present, Reilly gives a performance that is phenomenal as if he was born to play this fictional legend. Reilly is a master comedy actor as he is given a chance to work with the best that only heightens his comedic talents while his versatility his heighten in his singing. Reilly has an amazing voice, that was proven in Rob Marshall's film version of Chicago back in 2002 where Reilly won an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. In the role of Dewey Cox, this is Reilly finally given the chance to show audience why he's a great actor both in drama and comedy as some will hope will give him bigger and better things.
While not up to par with other Judd Apatow-driven masterpieces like The 40-Year-Old Virgin or Knocked Up, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is still a hilarious, raunchy film from Apatow and director Jake Kasdan. Helmed by John C. Reilly's superb performance, it's a film that should be seen for those who just want to laugh at the cliches of musical bio-pics. While the film has something to offer for Apatow's film crowd as well as music fans, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is a rambunctious, raunchy, racy, and downright hilarious comedy that will make you buy Cox's sausages. After all, it ain't Cox until he says it taste like Cox.
The 40-Year Old Virgin (2005):
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006):
Knocked Up (2007):
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story Original Soundtrack (2007):
Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008):
Pineapple Express (2008):
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for Groups
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age
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