' ' Cinema Romantico: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Friday, April 25, 2008

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

I've mentioned this before and the esteemed Roger Ebert has spoken about it at length but reviewing a parody movie is difficult since the entire enterprise is centered around the jokes and it's difficult to discuss jokes without mentioning the jokes. Thus, I have determined to go into bullet point mode, as is my wont every now and then, and try to summarize the specific thoughts this one viewer had while watching the Jake Kasdan/Judd Apatow tale of John C. Reilly's "Dewey Cox" as he makes like Johnny Cash in "Walk the Line" (and Ray in, uh, "Ray") and sings and dances for a living through decade after decade while always making sure to adjust with the sound of the moment and, of course, set aside time for drugs and a little lovin'.

*The most accurate event in the entire film? That's an easy one. It's when they compare Bruce Springsteen to the Bible's Zechariah.

*Dewey's mother is played by Margo Martindale and his father is played by Raymond J. Barry. Why is this crucial? Martindale also played the mother of Maggie Fitzgerald in "Million Dollar Baby" which, as we know, makes her the most vile, hideous woman on the face of the earth.

Barry also played the father of Lauren Reed on "Alias" (which - and I know everyone will disagree with me, and that's fine - I think is the greatest dramatic show, for the first three seasons, in TV history). Lauren Reed (played by Melissa George) was the woman who swooped in to marry Vaughn (Michael Vartan) at the start of the third season after everyone presumed Sydney (Jennifer Garner) was dead and then it turned out that, in fact, the whole marriage was a sham and Lauren was working for the bad guys. Or, to say it another way, he fathered The Devil Woman.

With these parents it's quite clear Dewey was going to fall into drugs.

*Speaking of which, I most enjoyed the scenes of Dewey forever stumbling into the room where his drummer (Tim Meadows) has a pile of girls and drugs. ("It's called cocaine. It turns your bad feelings into good feelings. It's a nightmare!")

*There are a ton of cameos in this thing and while everyone may be taken with who portrayed The Beatles my personal favorite was the great character actor John Michael Higgins as Sam Phillips, or at least a Sam Phillips-esque producer ("You have shaken my faith in the Jewish people").

*The problem with the guys playing The Beatles was that they didn't really get to do anything funny. Is it just supposed to be funny that they're The Beatles? Because unfortunately, it wasn't.

*The main issue I had with the film was its tendency to beat certain jokes into the ground. Mainly, the whole age thing (characters specifically saying how old they are to poke fun at movies in which actors are quite clearly older then the parts they're playing or vice-versa) and the "wrong son died". Okay, okay, we get it. Now can you back off, please?

*My friend Brad has already noted on this blog the excessive quality of the soundtrack, and I agree whole-heartedly. These are great songs - "Take My Hand" probably could have charted in the 50's - and so many of them and of such different varieties. But I'd like to take it a step further, so allow me to get all understated and restrained.

The Johnny & June inspired "Let's Duet" between Dewey and Darlene (Jenna Fischer) is without a doubt the greatest parody song I've ever heard. (Watch it. For the love of God, watch it right now.)

I mean it. It is simply, almost inconceivably, mind-blowingly, fantastic. As I type this I'm humming it. I can't get it out of my head, in the best of ways. In fact, I'm going out today on my lunch break and buying the damn soundtrack because if I don't get that song on my Ipod pronto there's gonna' be some problems.

The song is funny with its assortment of double entendres (sample: "In my dreams you're blowing me......some kisses") but that goes without saying. What really sets this apart from every other parody song I've ever come across is the fact that it's a good song. The piano and lap steel fills are good. And the way the backing band breaks it down after Dewey sings "here I am sneaking up behind you" is really, really good. This is a country western song, man, of real life, honest to goodness quality that just happens to possess ridiculous lyrics. After the movie was done I watched this scene another 12 or 13 times just so I could listen to it.

Major, major props to Benji Hughes and Charlie Wadhams (who wrote it) and Reilly and Angela Correa (Ms. Fischer was apparently dubbed) who sang it. All due respect to the esteemed "Weird" Al Yankovic but facts are facts - the man never made anything like this.

1 comment:

daryl said...

This movie was pretty disappointing, and I thank Nick for noticing that it....

...Wait.

What did you just say about "Weird Al," you no-talent hack?