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Everyone Loves Cox!
by Matt Forsman on Dec 21, 2007
American music legend, Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly) saw it all and did it all (including one of the male members of his band) during his 71 magical years of life. At long last, a bio-pic worthy of the man, has arrived in Walk Hard:The Dewey Cox Story. Admittedly, Dewey was always a bit of a mystery, but there is one thing we all know about Dewey, the man could walk…HARD!
Dewey’s "hardness" was established at an early age. Dewey came from humble beginnings, growing up on a farm in Springberry, Alabama. He lived in the shadow of his brother who was a preternaturally gifted piano player. However, a tragic machete fight in the barn left Dewey’s brother halved and Dewey walked away from this tragedy "smell blind". With no sense of smell, Dewey soldiered on finding he had a gift for music too. Success wouldn’t come easy, but fortunately Dewey knew how to walk hard along life’s rocky road.
A man as epic as Dewey Cox could really only be done justice by a small handful of actors. John C. Reilly is one of those few. Reilly initially displayed his comedic chops as Will Ferrell’s wingman in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Reilly’s performance in this film nearly stole the show.
The actor takes full advantage of his first comedic leading role in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Reilly brings an earnestness and gravitas to his performance as the confused, tormented, and talented Dewey Cox. It is his full commitment to the role that carries the film. Reilly’s Golden Globe nomination is totally justified. Reilly channels just about every tormented, tortured musician that has ever graced the earth and makes it all seem funny as hell.
While Reilly deserves a great deal of credit, he had a wonderful supporting cast from top to bottom. It’s hard to believe I’m saying this, but Tim Meadows (aka "The Ladies Man" from "SNL") was fantastic as Sam, one of Dewey Cox’s band mates. Meadows has some brilliant moments such as the seemingly innumerable times Cox walks into a bathroom to find Sam indulging in the latest illicit substance. Sam invariably tries to keep Dewey from indulging, but somehow manages to end up selling Cox on the drug du jour.
Jenna Fischer (Pam Beasly from "The Office") also has a great turn as the faithfully devoted good woman, Darlene. Only the love of a woman like Darlene can save a man like Dewey from his demons. Fischer does her best to channel Reese Witherspoon’s turn as June Cash from Walk The Line. Darlene alternates frenetically between being in love/lust with Dewey and staying true and virtuous. Kisses are quickly followed by slaps across Dewey’s face, more kisses, and more slaps.
Rounding things out are some great cameos from Paul Rudd, Jack Black, Harold Ramis, Jonah Hill (of Superbad), and a myriad of cast members from NBC’s ‘The Office’. Judd Apatow clearly leveraged all his connections to assemble a fantastic cast of gifted comedic actors. Director Jake Kasdan’s job couldn’t have been too hard with a cast of this caliber.
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is a wonderful end of the year comedic gem that manages to generate a multitude of clever chuckles, laughs, and guffaws from start to finish, which one has almost come to expect from anything Judd Apatow comes into contact with. This is not to discount Jake Kasdan’s directing job in this film, but there’s a reason why the posters for the film state, "From The Guy Who Brought You Knocked Up and Superbad’". Judd Apatow’s comedic signature is all over Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. However, this one is John C. Reilly’s film at the end of the day.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
by Matt Forsman on Dec 21, 2007