Opening 13 Mar 2008
Writing credits: Judd Apatow, Jake Kasdan
Principal actors: John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer, Raymond J. Barry, Margo Martindale, Kristen Wiig
This is my favorite bad-taste movie, a spoof about rock music with bows to Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and the Bee Gees, to name a few of the approximately twelve famous musicians copied in the film.
Young Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly) inadvertently causes the death of his brother Nate and forever suffers the wrath of his father who repeatedly proclaims that “the wrong kid died.” The trauma causes Dewey to lose his sense of smell. Nevertheless, he stumbles along the rocky road to stardom. His young wife Edith (Kristen Wiig), a veritable baby factory, contends that he “will never make it.” He does make it, as he works his way through all the clichés of pop music: appearing a black music club, taking drugs, doing rehab, singing on behalf of the downtrodden, divorcing, hosting his own TV show a la Sonny and Cher, and receiving a lifetime achievement award.
The script is by Jake Kasdan (who also directs) and Judd Apatow who worked on The 40-year-old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Walk Hard is in the same vein. Charlie Wadhams and Marshall Crenshaw composed original film music, reminiscent of old pop songs. Often I thought, “I know that tune,” which shows how perfectly the composers copied various styles. If the music isn’t enough to place you on the music time, the costumes will. The New York Times ran a full-page special of Dewey Cox modelling some of his 100 outfits. Jack White, Jack Black, Lyle Lovett, Jewel, Jackson Brown, and Ghostface Killah have cameo roles, although you might not always recognize them. John C. Reilly drew on musical experience from roles in Chicago and A Prairie Home Companion (where he played a singing cowboy). My colleague said, “I laughed all the way through it, although it wasn’t that funny.” That’s the way it is with bad-taste films, you laugh in spite of yourself. In this case the parody of the Beatles in an Indian ashram alone is worth the price of a ticket. (Becky Tan)