Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Jack White Was in this Movie Briefly
[Originally published: East County Herald]
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
By Robert Patrick
Comedies, as I’m told, rely on little subtext. To make an efficient comedy, though I’ve never practiced the art of filmmaking, I assume would require a sense of humor, an earnest light-hearted sensibility, or, if the movie calls for it, a witty narrative. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story presents me with a problem of not supplying these. While watching the screening of the John C. Reilly movie, I remembered what great parts he had played in the past. I remembered his spirited performance in Chicago, his treacherously villainous persona in Gangs of New York, even his goofily, yet hilarious, portrayal of a dimwit NASCAR driver in Talladega Nights. For all the remembering I did, I forgot why John C. Reilly would take such an unmemorable part in this year’s Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Despite my personal grievances, the audience in the screening was much more outspoken. There was little laughter between the crowd, and what nervous laughter existed would immediately permeate through the air like an S.O.S. and would finally meet a loud cough, or a scathing whisper. Not good, I thought.
Regardless, I could go on penning horror stories, but that would keep you from the inevitable synopsis (and wouldn’t you be lucky). Walk Hard, like the title suggests, is a (very) loose satire of the 2005 Johnny Cash bipic, Walk the Line. The main character in Walk Hard is Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly), who as boy in the early 1950s, dreams of being as able-minded, and talented as his gifted piano playing brother Nate (Chip Hormess). Both of the boys aspire to be great one day, until Dewey disembodies his eight year old brother with a machete. Funny, right? (This joke appears several times in the movie). After a mournful Dewey realizes what he has done, he runs off to play rock-a-billy music of the time. He is so successful that Elvis attempts to karate chop him. This is a stereotype about Elvis, so we realize the scene must be funny. It is not. Why I explain this unimportant scene of the lengthy, and bloated Walk Hard is because all of the scenes in the movie are varied assortments of that very excerpt. They are inane, frequently miscued, and too weighty to have any real comical value. Take for instance, as Dewey becomes older and more famous, a scene where he gets into the ‘sex‘ and ‘drugs’ portion of his rock ‘n roll glory. Dewey is lying down, talking to his estranged wife Edith (Kristen Wiig), when a fully nude band member/roadie/hotel caretaker (we never know, this is not important), comes into frame for a full thirty seconds. The scene of nudity is repeated a minute later. And, for good measure, repeated once more at the end of the film. You see, the director doesn’t want you to forget about how hilarious it is to have a naked person on screen.
The rest of the film, as one would expect, is filled with Dewey’s fame, to Dewey’s downfall, and all of the irrelevant material in between. After the film was over, I expected half of the audience to faint from exhaustion, or, the more realistic version, defeat.
In the end, more than not, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story confuses gags; a funny element, with gags; the act physical nausea. Despair has never been more unbearable.