Walk Hard


Walk Hard probably started out to be a spoof of the rock-era musical biopics. It took about half of the story of Ray and half of I Walk The Line and combined them to form the faux-bio of Dewey Cox, who was sort of the Forrest Gump of contemporary music. Ol' Dewey wasn't the brightest guy in the world, but he was right there with everyone, eternally changing his style of music to suit his times and surroundings. He was in India with The Beatles, and backstage with Elvis, the Bopper and Buddy Holly. He sings with rappers, MoTown artists, folk rockers, doo-woppers, hippies, old-time blues guitarists, psychedelic rockers, punk rockers, you name it. He sings like Bob Dylan, Pat Boone, Johnny Cash, and more. The film incorporates brief performances from Lyle Lovett, the Temptations, Jewel, Jackson Browne, and Ghostface Killah. You may think, "Wow, that's a lot to cover in one film!" and you'd be right. Not only does that agenda serve to pack the film too full, but it is further jammed by the fact that Dewey does not sing mere snippets of songs. Virtually every one of his performances consists of a full-length song, and he gives many performances.

That's a lot of music. 

If you go to this film thinking you will see a typical Judd Apatow comedy, well, there is some of that, but you need to prepare yourself for the fact that there's only about a half-hour of typical Apatow humor. The rest of it consists of lengthy parodies of different musical styles. It's a musical comedy, heavy on the music. The songs are consistently clever, but they are witty without being laugh-out-loud funny. They supply the kind of humor that makes one nod in appreciation of what they are doing and in recognition of their excellent mimicry. The writers and John C. Reilly manage to ape every musical style you can think of, but sometimes you get the feeling that they wanted to create a best-selling soundtrack album rather than a best-selling movie, because the songs are too good, too much like the real thing. John C. Reilly does a better job on singing than he does on clowning, not because he lacks the talent for the latter, but because that's the way the film is structured. And the man can sing.

I think the film's pace would have been more appropriate to comedy if each musical parody had been a short visit to the era's comical highlights rather than a meticulously accurate but dragged-out set piece.

I started this essay by saying that the film probably started our to spoof musical biopics. It didn't end up that way. The way it's handled here, with the existing mix of comedy and music, the film is not really a spoof of a musical biopic, it IS a musical biopic, albeit about a guy who never existed, who is singing songs you've never heard before. If Spinal Tap was the mockumentary for heavy metal, Dewey Cox is the mockumentary for every other form of music which was popular in the second half of the twentieth century. If you are expecting a zany comedy, you might find a pretty a good one in there somewhere, but it's a very, very short one sandwiched in between long and elaborate musical numbers.

Some of the best comedy pieces involve:

* The ridiculous things Dewey Cox buys when he jumps from poverty to rock star wealth (a giraffe, for example, which eats dinner with the family)

* A parody of the Beatles in their psychedelic Yellow Submarine era, complete with Peter Max-style animation, as performed by the unlikely foursome of Justin Long, Jack Black, Paul Rudd, and Jason Schwartzman. Long and Rudd are quite funny as Harrison and Lennon, complete with appropriately exaggerated Liverpudlian accents, but the funniest concept is that Jack Black makes no effort at all to look like Paul McCartney. He basically just plays Jack Black with an accent of some kind, but declares himself to be Paul McCartney! The Beatles segment ends in a fistfight between Lennon and McCartney, as shown below:

I think you will still enjoy the film if you enter the theater knowing what it is and accept that in advance, but I also think the critics were probably much too easy on this film, for reasons not apparent to me.

POSTSCRIPT: the unrated DVD version is 120 minutes long, 24 minutes longer than the theatrical cut. The extra time consists of (1) additional celebrity cameos (2) more and longer musical numbers, especially in the period when Dewey had his campy TV show (3) more nudity.


Two discs:

* widescreen 2.35

* Deleted & Extended Scenes

* 8 Full Song Performances

* Line-O-Rama

* The Music of Walk Hard

* The Real Dewey Cox

* Commentary with Jake Kasdan, Judd Apatow, John C. Reilly and Lew Morton


It was nominated for two Golden Globes, one for a song, the other for John Reilly's performance.

2.5 James Berardinelli (of 4 stars)
3 Roger Ebert (of 4 stars)
77 Rotten Tomatoes  (% positive)
65 Metacritic.com (of 100)






7.4 IMDB summary (of 10)
B- Yahoo Movies






Box Office Mojo. It was a nuclear bomb. It grossed only $4 million in its opening weekend, despite the fact that it was in nearly 2700 theaters. That equals $1547 per theater. To put that in perspective, the uberbomb Gigli grossed $1694 per theater in its opening weekend.





  • There is considerable nudity, full frontal male and female, but it is all supplied by anonymous roadies and groupies, and is basically all concentrated into a single scene.
  • The DVD version, which is 24 minutes longer than the theatrical release, has even more anonymous nudity.




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Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


A fairly good comedy that seems like it might have been, or perhaps SHOULD have been, a great one.