Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox story
‘What do we think about, when we think about Cox?’ says an admirably straight-faced Eddie Vedder addressing an awards ceremony at the climax of writer/director Jake Kasdan’s accomplished musical mockumentry. Spoofing The Doors, Walk The Line and other airbrushed tales of artistic torment, this innuendo-strewn biopic of fictional music legend Dewey Cox gives John C Reilly free rein to perform some polished Saturday Night Live-style skits and parodies.
Having accidentally sliced his brother in two in a childhood machete fight (‘Let’s go play machete fights! Ain’t no terrible tragedies gonna happen to us today!’ the youthful Cox wrongly predicts), Walk Hard charts the ups and downs of Cox as he flirts with fame, drugs and women, specifically Jenna Fisher sending up Reese Witherspoon’s June Carter as hormonal sexpot Darlene Madison.
Silly, good natured and endearingly frank about sexual matters, Walk Hard relies heavily on the patented SNL brand of stunt casting humour where the main character can be told, ‘You’ve got to avoid the temptations’, then appear body-swerving the real life Temptations in the next scene. The industry in-jokes are elaborate; Lyle Lovett, Jackson Browne, Jewel, Ghostface Killah and Vedder all turn up as themselves, The White Stripes’ Jack White plays Elvis Presley as a mumbling judo fan, and things reach a star-spotting plateau when Cox meets The Beatles, with Jack Black as Paul McCartney alongside Jason Schwartzman as Ringo, Paul Rudd as John Lennon and Justin Long as George Harrison.
But the simplest gags work best: parodying a Donovan/Dylan-style protest singer, Cox performs a brilliantly insensitive song in support of midgets, entitled ‘Let Me Hold You, Little Man’, in which he imagines lifting a midget in the air ‘so that dogs won’t keep licking your face’. Lovingly crafted by Marshall Crenshaw among others, it’s promised that the songs featured will be showcased in the forthcoming Box of Cox soundtrack album.
Despite co-writer and producer Judd Apatow’s enviable recent track record for comedy (Knocked Up, Superbad), US audiences stayed away from Walk Hard in droves, which is a real shame as their filmmakers’ enthusiasm for Cox and his music is genuinely infectious.
Selected release from Fri 18 Jan.