Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer, Tim Meadows, Kristen Wiig
Extras: Commentary Track, Deleted Scenes, Bloopers, Song Performances, Featurettes, Trailers and more

When Judd Apatow and Jake Kasdan take some material and turn it into one of their raunchy comedies, no holds are barred. In this case they created a send-off on "Walk The Line, " a film that has captivated critics and audiences alike with the wonderful portrayal of country-legend Johnny Cash's turbulent life. Although no particular fan of Apatow's sophomoric sense of humor I decided to give "Walk Hard" a check-up when it arrived on Blu-Ray to see how it holds up.

Shown as a retrospective, the film introduces us to Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly) as a young boy who accidentally kills his brother. Never forgiving him for the accident his father drives Dewey out of the family home by the age of 14. With only his love for music to guide him and his 12-year old girlfriend Edith (Kristen Wiig) by his side, Dewey sets out to conquer the world and become a music legend.

Bu the road to success is hard. Working odd jobs and making babies takes it all out of him, and if that's not enough his constantly-bickering now-wife Edith, never believes in him and asks him to abandon his dreams and take a real job. But then opportunity knocks – and Dewey is ready. Performing as the substitute main act in the night club he's working at, Dewey grabs the attention of some Jewish record-company moguls and within the hour – quite literally – he becomes one of America's most successful recording artists.

With the road to fame paved for him, Dewey writes hit record after hit record but it is getting harder and harder for him to withstand the temptations of the road. Sex and drugs begin to make up his life until he eventually crashes and burns so badly that it could mean the end of his career. But Dewey still has something to prove and he tries to get back on his feet.

Starring John C. Reilly in the lead, supplemented by a variety of Saturday Night Live alumnis, the film certainly has a lot of potential and manages to create some hilarious moments. Reilly is fabulous and he is funny, even when he isn't. Seeing him portray a 14-year old is so ridiculous that it is a scream in and of itself. He carries the musician image very well and certainly has the moves down as well as the proper attitude to come across as a "working" musician. SNL-cast member Kristen Wiig is also hilarious, I found, as the girlfriend/wife that always brings him down while being nothing more than a baby factory. The scene when Dewey has made his first big money and rolls high on his first #1 hit, while she keeps yelling at him "You will never make it! Give it up…" had me giggle silly with laughter.
Many of the supporting cast members are in great shape, actually. I liked Tim Meadows a lot as the drummer who always leads Dewey to temptation with the words "You want no part in this…"
And then, of course, there is Jenna Fischer as Darlene Madison, Dewey's soulmate, bandmate and love of his life. Not only does she look wonderful in this film, she is also funny and the perfect complement to Reilly's character.

In the beginning the film stays fairly close to its "Walk The Line" origins but as it progresses, the filmmakers stray from the template more and more. So much so, in fact, that during the last 30 minutes I couldn't shake the feeling that they were desperately trying to add some more outlandish scenes to the mix, just to get some additional laughs – unsuccessfully so I am sad to report. The whole "Beatles" thing feels tacky and pasted on, and while it produces a few smiles, it doesn't really add to the story or live up to the film's overall feel.

Which brings me to some of the film's shortcomings. Looking back at it, it almost feels as if the song "Let's duet!" – which is absolutely fabulous in its performance and humor – was the centerpiece of the movie's entire concept. Everything around it feels somehow either leading up to this one moment, or desperately trying to keep up with it. As such the film doesn't have a proper flow and has extreme ups and downs in terms of its comedy. It is incredibly funny sometimes, but it is also incredibly drab at many others. There are too many stretches without even an attempt at humor that the film somehow doesn't seem to know whether it wants to be a real spoof, or actually a real drama about a fictional character with some funny moments sprinkled in to lighten the atmosphere. It certainly is not your typical Apatow constantly below the waistline barrage of juvenile jokes.

The transfer of the film looks marvelous on this Blu-Ray disc. Coming in 1080p with spectacular detail, the transfer is incredibly rich and looks like a million bucks. Colors are popping off the screen and are nicely counterbalanced by great contrast with deep blacks and solid highlights. The level of detail is wonderful, making sure every tiny little bit of the image is clearly visible and reproduced, down to even the finest hair and seam. This is exactly how we envision high definition transfers to look like, powerful and rich, ready to blow your mind. Mind you, this film does not go for a very natural look with its hot color palette, but instead creates a very stylized image, so expect an image that is unnaturally rich throughout.

The same is true for the audio track. Offering up a Dolby TrueHD track, the audio is aggressive and extremely dynamic. Making full use of the surround channels, the track has a wide frequency response and a clarity that makes sure every detail in the mix is reproduced with proper accuracy. The musical numbers – and there are many – are also coming across lively and energetic to drive the film and the story. Dialogues are always understandable and properly balanced.

"Walk Hard" comes as a 2-disc set here and it is filled to the rim with bonus materials. Apart from the obligatory commentary track with the cast and crew, the release also offers up two versions of the movie itself. First there is the theatrical cut, and then there is the unrated Director's Cut adding additional moments to the film. Strangely however, you won't be able to select the version upon boot-up of the disc but instead have to make that selection from the "Special Features" menu where that option is hidden.

The release offers countless supplements, too many, really, to lit here individually. From deleted and extended scenes you will also find 16 complete song performances here. The meat of the bonus materials are clearly the many featurettes, many of which are mockumentaries, vignettes or funny comedy bits highlighting and promoting the movie. Only "The Making Of" and "The Music Of" featurettes are actually serious looks at the production of the movie and at that disappointingly short with a mere 15 minutes each.

"Walk Hard" is an entertaining movie but sadly it never lives up to its potential. It gets bogged down in undecidedness at times, then it trolls around with superficial tagged-on plot points before it finds its way back to its actual core. The comedy around the character of Dewey Cox. While I had fun watching it, I know it is a movie I'll watch only once and have forgotten about it soon enough despite its great presentation on Blu-Ray.