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
"Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" is the latest film from the same team who brought us "Knocked Up" and "Superbad" and proves once again that Judd Apatow and director Jake Kasdan are on a phenomenal winning streak, delivering big laughs and once again defying the odds with their own particular brand of screwball comedy. This time around, they have made a fake biopic that parodies the conventions these rise and fall movies sometimes fall into, but at the same time undeniably pays homage to these wonderful films. We're talking about films such as the wonderful "Ray" and "Walk The Line" (both Oscar winners), but also "La Bamba", "The Doors", "No Direction Home", and of course let's not forget the epic two-part television miniseries "The Beach Boys: An American Family" among many other films. Since it covers a long career of a 'legend', it has the chance to playfully poke fun at just about every musician from the fifties on through the eighties and nineties and also has a very good soundtrack of its own, featuring a large selection of hilarious and original songs (and some covers) performed by John C. Reilly. It's about time someone came up with this idea, it has been a long time coming. If you've ever found yourself laughing unintentionally at an episode of "Behind the Music", this movie is for you.
It starts off with an aged Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly) preparing to go out and receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. He falls into a flashback that will cover his entire life, and it becomes clear from the beginning that the film we are witnessing is the drug hazed memory from a burned out star, as many of the memories are hilariously exaggerated and over the top.
A young Dewey Cox (Conner Rayburn) learns the blues at a terribly young age after he unintentionally slices his brother in half with a machete as they are playing in the barn. It is a mistake that will curse him to the end of his career, and also cause a lifelong divide with his father (Raymond J. Barry), who will reoccur throughout the whole film in visions and in real life reminding him that "the wrong kid got killed that day!" The trauma also makes him lose his sense of smell (smell blind). Later that night Dewey meets up with some old blues men in a store and belts out an old blues song the likes of which they had never heard.
From here his life moves towards high school, where he gets the whole school dancing during a talent show. It is so funny watching the much older John C. Reilly acting like he's in high school, and all they do is slick his hair back a little. He ends up with an insane amount of children with a frazzled housewife (Kristin Wiig) who of course is completely confused when he composes "Walk Hard" and becomes famous overnight and decides to go out on the road. He reminds her he can't be there for her every time she has a kid or something, and heads towards fame on a tour bus.
From here the film is a roller coaster ride down the dark corridors of fame and excess we have seen so many times before, though never to this degree of insanity. He buys a monkey and a Giraffe and takes every drug known to man and ends up married a second time (even though he never left his first wife) to Darlene Madison (Jenna Fischer) who also performs with him on stage. He throws temper tantrums (always pulling out sinks in bathrooms), goes through detox, goes on a trip to India with the Beatles, goes through a hilarious Brian Wilson period and eventually even confronts his father. You just have to see it for yourself, anyone with a knowledge and appreciation of American Music history will simply love every second of this film. It also features cameos by some of the most famous modern music icons, including Jack White of the White Stripes doing a hilarious Elvis impersonation and Eddie Vedder having fun making fun of himself and the pretentious nature of awards ceremonies. The music is also not only funny, but very well done, they even took this material on the road, which has to be one of the coolest movie promotions ever. Also Tim Meadows as Sam (a band member) is downright hilarious; every time I looked at him I wanted to laugh. This comedy is very well done and one of the best comedies in recent memory, featuring a performance of a lifetime by the great John C. Reilly, who was made to play this role. They really have outdone themselves with this one.
While the transfer itself isn't necessarily reference material, it certainly represents the film very well, and there is simply a large abundance of detail going on in the background of this very active comedy. Framed with an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, the set decoration and costumes all come across very naturally and the texture is very filmlike although the image appears a bit soft at times, it still has a three dimensional pop every once in a while. It is perhaps a little inconsistent, and the black levels aren't as striking as I'm used to in newer releases, but all in all this very colorful film is a must buy on Blu-ray.
Thankfully, the audio really delivers on this title. It features a wonderfully crisp and immersive Dolby TrueHD that captures the very well recorded music for the film, along with the audience effects, which appear many times crystal clear in the surround speakers. The LFE channel also gets a healthy workout, this Blu-ray disc sounds just as good as it deserves to sound, because it is obvious a lot of hard work went into the music.
This is a two-disc set, and is quite simply loaded with some very entertaining special features, including the much hyped new BD Live capabilities which will put those PS3 firmware upgrades to the test. Many of the features are in high definition, also. First up, we have a wonderful and highly entertaining audio commentary with Jake Kasdan, Judd Apatow, and John C. Reilly. They point out all of the little details you will want to know about the making of this fictional biopic, and it is very lively chatter, they obviously get along very well and share the same twisted sense of humor.
'16 Full Song Performances' is a priceless addition to the film and they are all in 5.1 and in high definition, not to mention side-splittingly funny. It runs almost 45 minutes, an outstanding special feature.
'Song Demos' features another 40 minutes of music, this time in raw form and performed by the actual artists who performed them in standard definition. For music lovers, this is the equivalent of a deluxe edition and is very well done. It features Marshall Crenshaw and a slew of others.
'Deleted Scenes' runs about twenty minutes and although these ten scenes are in Standard Def, they look great and are framed at the same aspect ratio as the film itself. The scenes are also just as over the top as the rest of the film and well worth a look.
'Line-O-Rama' is about 5 minutes of gag reels and 'Cox Sausage Commercial with Outtakes' features Reilly acting like a spoiled aggressive pop star trying to sell sausages with the obvious phallic undertones of his name which is used throughout the film.
'The Music Of Walk Hard' is in high definition and shows the often painstaking attention to detail the filmmakers went through to get the sound right, one of the better features, although I wish it would have run longer than 19 minutes.
'The Making of Walk Hard' is typical fluff and runs about fifteen minutes but is in high definition.
We also have a couple 'Mockumentaries' which are in high def and really add to the whole experience. 'The Real Dewy Cox' runs seventeen minutes, while 'The Last Word with John Hodgman' is about twenty minutes. Obviously everyone is in character and having a lot of extra fun with the material. Also on board are a couple of short featurettes: 'Bull On The Loose' (4 minutes) and 'Tyler Nilson: A Coxumentary'(six minutes), both are in high definition also.
As you can see, the features are downright exhaustive, and we haven't even arrived at the BD Live features yet! They are on disc one, it will ask you if you would like to resume where you left off, which is very handy and is part of the 2.0 firmware upgrade. The menu on disc one is brilliant because it features a bunch of fake album covers which are very amusing. Please note this Blu-ray features both the original theatrical cut and the unrated version but you will have to choose the unrated version in order to watch it, it is in the special features area along with a blue BD Live icon, when you click on that it will take a couple of minutes for it to set up initially, but after the first time it takes you right to it. Basically it gives you the option of six Blu-ray trailers that you can play in standard or high definition; you can also do the same thing with three theatrical trailers. It also offers the option to download a few critical reviews of a few songs from the film, although it is just standard definition. It will be interesting to watch where they take Blu-ray live, but on this particular disc, which is already crammed with features, it isn't really necessary. Still, pretty cool to have the capabilities finally up and running.
Obviously Sony went all the way with this release, and not only is it funny, but those of you who love music history should get a real kick out of it. Still, some may not like the over the top and sick humor, but in my opinion it is a great experience on Blu-ray and belongs in every collection.