Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Walk Hard - DVD Review

Both surreal comedy and spoofs have been in the shitter for the last few years, thanks almost solely to the unspeakably foul and excruciatingly endless "______ Movie" series (Date Movie, Epic Movie, etc.), all composed of nothing but horrid shit. But Judd Apatow and Jake Kasdan did a fantastic job of reviving both forms with Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. I have no doubt that it's much funnier if you've seen Walk the Line and Ray (I'd say it's about 3/4ths a spoof of the former and 1/4th the latter), but if you have and you like comedy, I would immediately see it. It's cleverly written, has a deft touch of parody, skillfully milks patterns and surreality and comic conventions with hilarious results, and has a dick in it. What more could you want from a comedy?

I'll also mention that in addition to John C. Reilly's great performance as Dewey Cox, it's got one of the sickest casts ever. There's players from The Office (Jenna Fischer has a leading role, and Craig Roberson and Ed Helms show up), a couple from 30 Rock (Chris Parnell, Jack McBreyer), tons of people who have been in previous Apatow Production movies (David Krumholtz, Kristin Wiig, Martin Starr, Gerry Bednob, Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, Harold Ramis, Jane Lynch, and more), and a shit load of other recognizable faces (Jack Black, Frankie Muniz, Jack White, Simon Helberg, Justin Long, Jason Schwartzman, and Tim Meadows - all here). Most of them are cameos, but it was like a whos who of most of the best players in comedy today, and it was a lot of fun seeing a familiar face every few minutes.

Also, for Office fans, I would be totally remiss to not mention that Jenna Fischer wears a transparent neglige in one scene. So there's that too.

In Roger Ebert's review of the movie he mentions with pleasant surprise that John C. Reilly actually "plays" the character of Dewey Cox instead of playing down to the material. Not that I don't agree - it's a wonderful performance - but it speaks rather disappointingly to our lowered standards of an entire genre that we're surprised to actually catch actors acting in comedies now. Not only that, but the songs in the movie are actually full-fledged and well written, and the cinematography, camera work, and makeup is all up to the standards of any film.

But I don't think that should be unique, and I think it's retarded to treat comedy like a sub-genre - something else I would say that Epic Movie and it's abysmal ilk are partially responsible for. And that's something I think Judd Apatow has done well in 2007 and 2008, between Knocked Up, Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and Walk Hard, in raising the standards of comedy back up again. I have hope that comedy, the greatest genre, can continue its ascent.

3 Stars out of 5

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