In many ways, an over-the-top comedy like “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” is tough to review. Is there anything in this world more subjective than your sense of humor?
Don’t think too hard on that one.
What you really need to ask yourself is, did I ever see that movie “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” starring Will Ferrell? And, did I like it? If your answer to both questions is “yes,” then you need to see “Walk Hard” because it’s funnier.
Directed and co-written by Jake Kasdan, director of “Orange County,” “Walk Hard” is rated R for “I Reaaaaally didn’t need to see that much penis.” Not to give away any of the gags but a warning for this sort of thing is obligatory.
There will be penis. And, despite your personal opinion, on a screen forty feet high, it will be huge. And if you are in or near the front row, it will be in your face. You have been warned.
Penis aside, there is more to behold here. John C. Reilly (Will Ferrell’s NASCAR sidekick from “Talladega Nights”) takes up the titular role of Dewey Cox in his quest to overcome adversity and his inner demons to become a musical legend. His performance is solid, straddling the border between hilarious absent-mindedness and bright-eyed hope.
You’ll laugh at Dewey, sure, but you’ll also occasionally find yourself truly touched by his journey, especially at the musical performance marking the end of the film.
If Dewey’s adventure through life, love and music appear familiar to you (as well as his gravelly, spoken-word style of singing) it’s because the movie is very obviously a spoof on the 2005’s “Walk the Line,” the cinematic chronicle of music legend Johnny Cash’s life.
And while Reese Witherspoon won an Oscar for her role as June Carter in “Walk the Line,” Jenna Fischer (Pam Beesly in “The Office”) steals nearly every scene she’s in as Darlene Madison, Dewey’s second, but primary love interest. She’s charming, but funny too.
This warrants repeating. “Walk Hard” will make you like Fischer. If you haven’t heard of her before, you’ll suddenly feel the desire to learn more about her. And if you do already know Fischer, then you already know how easy it is to fall in love with her.
“Walk Hard” also benefits from Tim Meadows in the supporting cast. Meadows (most famous as Leon Phelps in “The Ladies Man”) carries a comedic presence with him into all his roles, and this role is really no different.
There is more than one original Dewey Cox song showcased throughout the movie. All of which are well-composed and lyrically clever. This holds true even if clever sometimes coincides with crude.
In a duet with Darlene, Dewey starts by singing, “I want you to blow me? some kisses,” to which she sings back, “That’s one of my favorite things to do.” And these are just the first lines from this epic back and forth of sexual innuendo. And who doesn’t love sexual innuendo?
So while “Walk Hard” isn’t exactly “Walk the Line” in production and dramatic intent, it’s still a piece of fine comedy. Reilly earned himself a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, while the song “Walk Hard” received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song.
“Walk Hard” is worth a view and the ticket price. Reilly’s strong performance, help from a memorable supporting cast, clever musical pieces, and use of the humor we’ve grown to expect from Reilly work together to ensure you’ll have a hard time walking away from this flick.