This forgettable, yet amusing parody of musical biopics is headlined by John C. Reilly (Talledega Nights) and co-written by Judd Apatow (Knocked Up).
So, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is filled with plenty of raunch and some sentiment. Yet, the recipe isn't for that much success despite the longtime sidekick actor's commitment to the character of Dewey whose last name is choice for many puns.
Dewey Cox was enjoying a fine rural Alabama childhood until a suddenly sharp mishap obviously inspired by the Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line left him without the sense of smell, besides the love of his dad (Raymond J. Barry).
This musical prodigy finds much to be proud of through his success in the 1950s and 60s. Yet, he's lured by the likes of characters played by Tim Meadows into drugs and sex. It hurts his family life with two fractured marriages, first to childhood sweetie Edith (Kristen Wiig) and Darlene (Jenna Fischer), the latter akin to June Carter Cash.
In light of modern celebrity meltdowns, Apatow and director Jake Kasdan have some fun with rehabilitation and relapsing, besides some running gags. Will Dewey find redemption by returning to his roots?
Walk Hard incorporates much of its candor through the free-spirited Cox and the hedonism surrounding him that is very accessible. Besides Johnny Cash and Ray Charles, the unfettered Reilly (showcasing a risible, musical side evident in A Prairie Home Companion) channels a bit of Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, even Michael Jackson.
There's detail done with glee in deadpan moments in various eras, as messages even had justice for midgets in them. A religious sequence, wryly bizarre, has Dewey at an ashram in India with the Beatles (Apatow regular Paul Rudd is seen here as the mystical John Lennon). Then, there's the "happy" 70s and the hip-hop 90s.
Yet, with the abundance of gags it's hard not to get the impression that the scattershot nature of it all reflecting the exhausting nature of the lampoon. Not that one doesn't care at all about this struggling sensation of an everyman, but it never cuts through the zany and the silly in a pungent, full-bodied way the Dewey did in his haunting childhood.