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Frat Pack Tribute Movie Preview: Walk Hard - The Dewey Cox Story

Synopsis

America loves Cox! But behind the music is the up-and-down-and-up-again story of a musician whose songs would change a nation. On his rock 'n roll spiral, Cox sleeps with 411 women, marries three times, has 22 kids and 14 stepkids, stars in his own 70s TV show, collects friends ranging from Elvis to the Beatles to a chimp, and gets addicted to -- and then kicks -- every drug known to man... but despite it all, Cox grows into a national icon and eventually earns the love of a good woman -- longtime backup singer Darlene (Jenna Fischer).

Writer/Producer Judd Apatow described Reilly's character Dewey Cox this way: "He's been addicted to a lot of drugs. He's gone through a lot of wives, and when he was a kid, he accidentally cut his brother in half with a machete. He's working out these problems in this movie, and we're very sure it's going to win an Oscar. We're pretty sure that it's a shoo-in at this point."

Review

by Kevin Crossman

With Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, filmmakers Jake Kasdan and Judd Apatow have created one of the most unique movie experiences in years. The film works equally as a musical parody for fans in the know, but also as standard farce for less-knowledgable moviegoers. Plus, it's an outstanding story that provides genuine emotional appeal with a surprisingly engaging story about redemption and family. It also happens to be one of the funniest films of the year and the best "mockumentary" since This is Spinal Tap.

In a ten-minute prologue, we learn about Dewey Cox, a fun-loving country kid who accidentally kills his overachieving golden child of a brother with a machete. Scorned at home by his father (Raymond J. Berry) who constantly reminds him "the wrong kid died," Dewey soon sets off on his own as a fourteen year-old with the twelve year-old bride Edith (Kristen Wiig). Dewey struggles with his musical career but soon finds fame with his signature song "Walk Hard." As Dewey's fame rises, he deals with drugs, infidelity, and a beautiful backup singer named Darlene Madison (Jenna Fischer) who he falls in love with.

As the 60s arrive, Dewey finds himself in prison and later rehab. He achieves a career renaissance until The Beatles introduce him to LSD in an especially effective scene that features hilarious cameos by Paul Rudd, Jack Black, Justin Long, and Jason Schwartzmann as the Fab Four. As the sixties end, Dewey's life is in another dark place. His career rebounds in the 70s as CBS green lights "The Dewey Cox Variety Show" for television. But, sadly, Dewey's life apart from Darlene is empty and unfulfilled.

The last act provides true drama to this otherwise silly movie. This is where John C. Reilly's acting chops really come in handy. He's hilarious throughout and his singing is outstanding. But the dramatic material really needed an actor to pull off properly and Reilly is "guilty as charged." The last scene might even bring a tear to your eye, like it did for me.

Walk Hard features an incredible soundtrack that features a myriad of musical styles from the past fifty years. Though the title song will remind you of Johnny Cash, this is not a parody of Walk the Line. That film's musical and thematic notes are present to be sure, but educated viewers will see similarities in the story and the music to Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, and others. While not every song on the outstanding soundtrack is featured in the film, several songs shine in the movie. The title track receives the requisite montage treatment, complete with the familiar Billboard chart framing. "Guilty as Charged," "Let's Duet," and "Beautiful Ride" are just a few of the outstanding tunes in this parody that like This is Spinal Tap features true musical credibility.

Film buffs who like cameos will love Walk Hard. The film features a veritable cornucopia of gag casting, featuring numerous performers from past Apatow productions. In addition to the aforementioned Beatles casting, the film also features Frankie Muniz as Buddy Holly and musician Jack White as Elvis. Other cameos are so delightful they won't be spoiled here, but let's just say that you won't be disappointed unless you're a fan of Will Ferrell (who doesn't appear) or Patrick Duffy (who's cameo from the trailer didn't make the final cut).

The film isn't perfect. There are big jumps in time that aren't handled very well, and at times the cameos draw attention away from both the drama and even some of the jokes. Also, our favorite song from the Deluxe Exclusive version of the soundtrack, the emotionally wrenching "Weeping on the Inside," was played for laughs rather than drama as it probably deserved.

Minor quibbles aside, Walk Hard is a revelation. Who gives a damn about this being a comedy, give Reilly another Oscar nomination says we! With powerful songs, hilarious dialogue and performances, and more Cox than you can shake a stick at, this is truly an outstanding film.

*****

Soundtrack

1. Walk Hard
2. Take My Hand
3. (Mama) You Got To Love Your Negro Man
4. A Life Without You (Is No Life At All)
5. Let's Duet
6. Darling
7. (I Hate You) Big Daddy
8. Guilty As Charged
9. Dear Mr. President
10. Let Me Hold You (Little Man)
11. Royal Jelly
12. Black Sheep
13. Starman
14. Beautiful Ride
15. (Have You Heard The News) Dewey Cox Died


Purchase the Soundtrack

Deluxe Exclusive Edition at iTunes with 15 extra songs

Dewey Cox is doing promotional concert appearances. Check the Cox Across America photos and videos.

Trailer

There are two versions of the trailer, each with different bits of footage. The first originally appeared on film ick and is much longer. Presumably this is an international trailer.

Domestic Trailer

International Trailer

Poster

What an incredible poster, clearly playing on the famous photo of The Doors' Jim Morrison. Click for larger version.

Articles

Fan Club - I Love Cox!

The creative folks at Columbia Tristar Marketing are kicking things up a notch with a creative way to promote the movie. Here are some fine photos of the merchandise and our Tribute canine model, Lucky. Thanks to Laura Telles for the photos. Learn more at www.rocklikecox.com.

      

Photo Gallery