Plot: By the team that brought you the comedy “Talladega Nights” comes the story of singer Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly), who leads a hard life, has ups and downs trying to survive in the music industry, and reinvents himself many times over.
Who’s it for: If you like your comedy wacky and without boundaries, you will definitely have fun with this film. It’s definitely not for the kids though, with sex, drugs and violence being the center of the jokes.
Expectations: I really liked “Walk the Line” and “Ray” and as soon as I heard about “Walk Hard” I thought this could be a great satire. Plus, giving John C. Reilly his first starring role with Judd Apatow (“Knocked Up”) as the screenwriter, I was hopeful for some good laughs.
John C. Reilly as Dewey Cox: This is a role Will Ferrell or Bill Murray was born to play, and luckily, Reilly was up for the challenge. Whether it was throwing sinks out of anger, getting drawn into the world of drugs, or playing a 14-year-old, this journey works because Reilly is a great comedic actor … who can also carry a tune.
Jenna Fischer as Darlene: Dewey’s love interest (after his first wife, of course) is Darlene, and Fischer makes sure you don’t confuse her from her “Office” job. Sure, not every scene works to perfection, such as when they are sexually attacking each other in the rehab room, but with a film like this you don’t expect every single joke to work.
Tim Meadows as Sam: Hands down, the funniest part of the film is Dewey stumbling upon his drummer Sam doing marijuana. Sam gives every reason in the book why Dewey shouldn’t try the drug, and every line is funnier than the last.
Talking: Jack Black as Paul McCartney might not make the most sense, but “Walk Hard” constantly let’s you know it is joking. Almost all the jokes are over-explained with expertise, making sure every punch line is extended for as much it’s worth.
Sights and sounds: “Let’s Duet” is the funniest song of the film, plus “Walk Hard” is actually a good tune. Brian Wilson, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash are all parodied with good effect, and let’s hope Reilly will get a chance to perform one of these songs at the Oscars.
The entire film has three repetitive jokes: Dewey cut his brother in half, Dewey can’t smell, and he’s going to take drugs. So it’s kind of amazing how well the film works. “Walk Hard” found a subject with untapped satire. Plus, writer/producer Judd Apatow was able to bring together Jack Black, Jason Schwartzman, Eddie Vedder, Justin Long, Paul Rudd, Jack White, Jonah Hill and cast members from “30 Rock,” “The Office” and “SNL.” The third act of the film begins to drag a little, but everyone involved has comedic talent, most of the songs are fun, and John C. Reilly shows he can be in the same company as his “Talladega Nights” co-star Will Ferrell.
Overall Grade: 8