Thursday, June 19, 2008

Movie Log: Walk Hard

Walk Hard is a deeply silly movie, and it knows it. Oh, occasionally it looks like it's being serious, but don't get taken in -- that's just to set up another joke. And I appreciate a movie that knows what it wants to do, and goes right out to do it.

John C. Reilly is Dewey Cox, who is a Roy Orbison/Ray Charles/Johnny Cash figure -- oh, heck, let's be honest: he's a deliberate conglomeration of every music-business cliche of the past fifty years.

Dewey -- who killed his brother at the age of six in a tragic machete-fighting accident -- begins his musical career at the age of fourteen by inciting his local high schoolers to riot with an amazingly bland song about hand-holding and is kicked out of the house immediately by his father. His twelve-year-old girlfriend goes with him, and soon bears the first of many, many children.

Dewey gets his big chance when he has to go on in place of the leader of the band in the African-American club where he usually mops the floor -- and, of course, that's the night when "the Jews from the record company" are there. Fame and fortune soon follow, as does temptation. If you've seen an episode of "Behind the Music," you'll know where it goes from there.

The whole thing is played as if it were serious; Reilly and the other actors never break character or wink, which makes Walk Hard work. It's a silly parody movie, but it doesn't act silly -- every moment is deadly serious to the people in it. (It's a style of comedy that used to be in vogue -- look at the original Airplane -- but has been overtaken by more knowing scripts and annoying baby-men.)

In the end, a comedy lives or dies on how funny it is: I thought Walk Hard was very funny, and laughed a lot. The Wife did, too, though she kept trying to watch it as a straight movie (I think, from her comments during it). So that's two votes for funny from the Hornswoggler household. I'll note in closing that there are quite a number of dick jokes, but not as many as there could have been -- especially given the main character's name -- and that they mostly work well, as in the double entendre-laced, and giggle-inducing, song "Let's Duet."

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