Friday, December 28, 2007

Walking Hard

At long last, Hollywood has finally realized their mistake, and have given praise, and an entire movie, to the life of Dewey Cox. Walk Hard in an unflinching look at the life and times of one of the great musicians of our, possibly of ALL, time.

Who cares that Dewey Cox isn't real? John C. Reily breathes so much life into Cox, you'd think he was real enough. Walk Hard dutifully parodies recent music biopics (Walk the Line, Ray, etc) and does such a convincing job that you'd believe Dewey Cox is real. (And some lucky fans may have a chance to see Cox perform live, completing the cycle).

Walk Hard hits all the right beats. It has a tragedy in the young Cox's life that sparks his interest in music. (And an unfortunate ailment: he now has no sense of smell) At age 15 (where he's played by Reily) his music creates a stir that the townsfolk aren't ready for. Saddled with an eternally pregnant first wife (brilliant Kristin Wiig) who doesn't believe in him, Dewey goes on to write his first big hit: Walk Hard. From there, it's a non stop parade of musical changes, drugs, monkeys, more women (The lovely Jenna Fischer, of Slither and that show that takes place in an office), even more drugs. Then finally, the realization that he can be a good man, and reform his ways, just in time for a giant show that celebrates his life and achievements. The movie is so frighteningly true to the mold, that I almost just took my Walk The Line review, and Find/Replaced the names of the actors.

The humor in the movie (it is blessed by the magical pen of Apatow, who co-wrote with director Jake Kasdan) is more broad than other films that brandish the Apatow name. It's more akin to the humor in Anchorman, although with more heart. What makes Walk Hard so appealing is the music they wrote to represent Cox. It's actually well written, with a lot of talent and thought behind it, akin to the humorous (but genuine) folk music featured in A Mighty Wind. Another plus in this movie's favor.

Reily does an amazing job portraying Cox. He truly gets into the spirit of things. You have to wonder if he did the method actor approach and actually denied himself the sense of smell, much like Jaime Foxx's dedication to studying the life of Ray Charles. What's brilliant about his performance is that he also seems to be playing an actor whose sole purpose is to portray this life and win an Oscar. Sneaky and subversive.

The rest of the cast is outstanding, filled with many familiar faces from the Apatow cannon of actors. (The Beatles scene had me wetting myself with delight, not fear like usual). But the standout support in this film goes to Tim "The Ladies Man" Meadows, as Dewey's long suffering drummer who turns Cox onto every drug imaginable. His performance alone erases many bad memories of poor choices he's made in the past.

Walk Hard is a damn funny film that continues the Apatow tradition of truly hilarious films with their hearts in the right places.

No comments: