Behind the Behind the Music

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Starring John C. Reilly. Directed by Jake Kasdan. Feather River Cinemas, Paradise Cinema 7 and Tinseltown. Rated R.
Rated 3.0

This parody biopic makes for a good deal of lively entertainment, but it’s also something of a disappointment.

The always reliable John C. Reilly proves well-suited to the title role—a hulking rock star whose musical persona shape-shifts through the changing fashions in rock and pop over the last 50 or so years. And director Jake Kasdan, who co-wrote with producer Judd Apatow, has plenty to work with in terms of acting talent as well as comic concepts.

But the onscreen results are uneven and erratic, as comedy and satire alike. Much of it wobbles, however agreeably, between sketch comedy and picaresque epic, and so much the worse for a movie unable to make good on the promises inherent in its most fascinating concepts.

Reilly serves ably and amiably as a farcical composite of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, etc. But too much of the film is merely a spoof on Walk the Line and Ray, especially the former, and not enough follows through on the tragicomic notion of Dewey Cox as self-deceiving American archetype.

Jack White of the White Stripes is brilliant in a brief scene in which Dewey Cox and Elvis Presley meet face to face. But several single-joke bits (Tim Meadows’ drug-happy drummer, Frankie Muniz’s cameo as Buddy Holly) wear out their welcome at first laugh. And an inflated parody of the Beatles (with unbilled turns by Jack Black, Paul Rudd, Jason Schwartzman and Justin Long) feels like a DVD extra that has somehow infiltrated the theatrical version of the film.