Wednesday, April 9, 2008

"Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story"

Comedy starring John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer, Raymond J. Barry, Margo Martindale. Directed by Jake Kasdan. Written by Kasdan and Judd Apatow. This uneven parody of "Walk the Line" with a little bit of "Ray" thrown in contains as many strikeouts as homeruns, but when the title character (Reilly) is singing the songs composed by the likes of Marshall Crenshaw and Van Dyke Parks, this film hits all the bases. His duet with soon-to-be wife (although he’s already married) Darlene (Fischer), aptly called "Let’s Duet" could be said to be filled with double entendres if they weren’t all so singularly intended. And his spin on a Bob Dylan "Highway 61 Revisited"-era song, "Royal Jelly," is dead-on perfect. Reilly is absolutely electrifying as Cox, especially when he’s on stage performing in concert. He’s earns his laughs by playing the role completely straight—he never telegraphs the punch lines which is the mark of a superb comic actor, a breed all too rare these days. Some of the bits where Cox encounters famous rock stars -- Buddy Holly, Elvis, the Beatles -- fall flat, although there’s a classic bit near the end involving The Temptations. The movie’s second half doesn’t seem to measure up to the first, but then that could be because the very idea of a Johnny Cash parody has worn thin by that time. The songs are so delicious, however, and Reilly is so wonderful performing them, it makes me think "Walk Hard" makes a better soundtrack album than it does a movie. Grade: C

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