Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Walk Hard: the Dewey Cox Story

For whatever reason moviegoers do not want to see WALK HARD. You’d think it was DEUCE BIGELOW 4 or a Tom Cruise Iraq War movie. Frankly I’m surprised. How could a comedy by Judd Apatow (THIS year) that got good reviews and co-stars Jenna Fischer be such a bomb? P.S. I LOVE YOU did better business the first weekend with toxic reviews and Hilary Swank cast as a comedienne for godsakes!

So when I watched WALK HARD I couldn’t help being somewhat distracted trying to figure out what went so horribly wrong. I mean, no less an authority than ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY crowned Judd Apatow as the current smartest man in Hollywood.

Here’s what I thought. There are some huge laughs in it. That alone should attract more people than P.S. I LOVE YOU. There’s probably an hour of funny stuff. How many comedies today can say that? The trouble is the movie feels like it’s three hours. My standard complaint with Apatow movies is that they’re too long but this time the length really drags down the material.

But since the movie was dead on arrival, it had to be something else. Was it the paper thin premise? Spoofing a genre the kids obviously don’t give a shit about? The time period (although that same era didn’t seem to hurt DREAMGIRLS or HAIRSPRAY)? Was it John C. Reilly? Does he just not connect with young audiences (although he was fantastic)? If Will Ferrell played the part would the movie have done better? Did the trailer turn people off? Did they sense repetition? Did the jokes get old even after 45 seconds?

I dunno. It’s a puzzler. But then again I’ll never make ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY’S smartest list. Or sexiest list.

Would love to hear your views.

I will say this: Paul Rudd as John Lennon was HILARIOUS. Maybe if Apatow had done that as a movie...


"The Book of Don" said...

Here's my two bits worth your average Canadian movie goer I have absolutely NO IDEA what the movie is about ? "Walk Hard" - I don't get it. ??
"Dewey Cox" ?? Who's he ??

I get the, but the title and the poster telegraph not a comedy, but some sort of weird bio pic.

I love the star ... although he's NOT really known for being funny. And eventhough my 16 yr old son said the movie was great - I think this was a case where unfortunate casting and a non-existent ad campaign sank the movie.

Anonymous said...

This was the only movie I wanted to see over the holidays, but work was insane and we never got over to the rickety old revue in time. It's still on our list. I can't help but crack a smile every time I see John C. Reily as Jim Morrison with his Jeff Spicoli doofus face. :-) Just thinking about it makes me smile.

Add to that my fave female SNL'er, Kristen Wiig, and you have a winning formula in my eyes. (I'm rather simple and easy to please in case you couldn't tell.)


Anonymous said...

You can't make spoof movies anymore. They died when the studios started making all those horrible ones after Airplane and Naked Gun did well.

Also, the trailers looked pretty bad. I didn't even know Jenna was in it. She was barely in the trailers. And if I weren't a Hollywood person, I probably wouldn't have noticed that Apatow was involved. Blame it on bad advertising.

Anonymous said...

As a fellow Canuck, I can vouch for Don when he says the promos up here leave a lot to be desired and understood where this movie is concerned. In fact, it was the movie poster that tipped me off to it being a satire in the same genre as the Date Movie and Scary Movie. I will have to find one of the promos we see up here online and link to it so you can all see what we're confused by.


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the movie, it was no 40 Year Old, Knocked Up, or Superbad, or Ancorman...but it was still better than most of what Hollywood tries to pass of as comedies.

I shudder to think that if the Wayan Brothers took the same concept they would have had a $60 mllion like their Scary Movie or Epic Movie work. It would have been horrile but the teens would have seen it.

Anonymous said...

I just watched Walk Hard a few days ago. I had heard all the positive buzz for a while and friends who had seen it talked it up, but I still went into this movie with really low expectations(and I loved the Apatow summer comedies this year). I think this may have been the worst marketing campaign for a comedy, at least from a trailer perspective, of all time. I thought the movie was funny, despite suffering from a few musical numbers that were neither interesting nor funny. Tim Meadows' riff on marijuana was maybe the funniest minute of any comedy this year, though, and most of the rest of the movie would get a solid 'B'-average in the comedy category.

Nevertheless, I was actually surprised to see Jenna Fischer on screen, as I dont recall seeing her in a single one of the awful trailers that focused on a young boy singing blues with an old man's voice and cutting his brother in half, possibly the two flattest jokes of the movie. In an age where comedies are so often inflated by the trailers wasting the only decent jokes in the film, it is hard to pony up $9 to catch a flick whose trailer induces cringes.

Anonymous said...

The first minute and a half of this trailer (, right up to where the priest standing up and shouting, is what we see in Canada. Many versions of this 90 seconds, alone with a bit of Kristin and Jenny in tiny clips as their names are announced as stars, are cut and shown in rotation up here. I couldn't tell you how many we see, but they all look pretty much the same, so I'm gonna go with two official versions spliced to hell by tv stations needing to fill certain commerical timeslots.


Jake Hollywood said...

Maybe the problem with "Walk Hard" was that it was just uninspired. Maybe, if we're lucky, Apatow's genius has run its course.

It happens.

Spencer said...

Got a chance to catch this flick with my daughter over the holiday break. In part the film was funny in an inappropriate way. Not a show for old married folk. As I counted, there were only six people total in the theater and myself and my daughter were two of those six. This film earns a "not recommend" from me.

Anonymous said...

I liked the movie, but am not the least surprised by its box office failure. Some reasons:

1. Parody of a genre that wasn't exactly crying out for a parody.

2. As Ken suggested, young audiences don't really get it. I imagine the core audience for "Walk the Line" and "Ray" was older. They would undoubtedly get the movie if they'd see it, but probably aren't as interested in a spoof (and probably wouldn't care for the full frontal male nudity). Ironically though, the film is not in the "Scary Movie" or "Date Movie" style. It has a strong narrative. I think there's a neither-fish-nor-fowl aspect that may be confusing marketers and audiences alike.

3. Judd Apatow's "brand" is as a maker of two types of films: more-or-less realistic character comedy that blends heart and raunch, and Will Ferrell wackiness. Parody hasn't been in his wheelhouse, and the ads make it clear that "Walk Hard" is nothing like "Knocked Up," "Superbad," et al.

4. The Jim Morrison take-off in the poster probably means nothing to anyone under 40. And it really helps to have some knowledge of rock music history from the '50s to the present to get all the references in the movie, much less the jokes.

Anonymous said...

From the promotions it just looked to me like another Saturday Night Live-type skit, stretched into two hours.

Anonymous said...

By the way, the film is short by recent Apatow standards: only 96 minutes.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the movie, it had more than enough laughs to keep me entertained (and some great music to boot!)

It does drag a bit in the middle, but I still felt it was worthwhile.

That said, it had the WORST ad campaign i've seen in a very long time. The posters were a HUGE misfire - the Jim Morrison thing not only tells you NOTHING about the movie (hell, maybe less than nothing, since it's utterly misleading), but aren't funny in their own right.

The previews were also VERY hit and miss, about half funny and half not at best. (the movie itself had a far better joke/hit ratio.)

That said, it is an odd little movie, spoofing a fairly esoteric group of conventions (even if recent film history has made them feel more ubiqutious.)

The tone is also inconsistent, at times it's extraordinarily broad and slapstick-y, other times it is aiming for a more sophisticated kind of satire where reality is only slightly tweaked.

rob! said...

i can't speak to why people didnt want to see it, but my gf and i walked out of it(at the end, i mean) a little disappointed--it was much more Airplane! than Spinal Tap, in terms of it being "real." all that talent seems a little wasteful for such a mostly silly movie.

Frank!!! said...

I LOOOVED this movie.
But I have to say I couldn't decide if it was either the smartest dumb movie I'd ever seen or if it was the dumbest smart movie I'd ever seen.

And I think that was the big problem, it just fell into the big middle of Christmas movies.

People who wanted something smart felt that it would be too dumb (I mean the trailers made it look MUCH stupider than Knocked Up or Super Bad) and people who wanted something dumb felt that a rock mockumentary would be too much to digest.

Jeff Greco said...

Terrible, horrible, atrocious marketing. I'm pretty sure I laughed harder at the P.S. I Love You trailer.

Why couldn't they have done a red label trailer and featured the Meadows marijuana scene? Leaked some scenes on onto the net? I had almost no interest in seeing the movie after seeing the trailer, and I'm really glad I ended up going anyway.

Anonymous said...

I liked it. Songs were good and acting was good.
It was smartly written smart parody.
The problem was that didn't mix with the smutty dick jokes (including the repeated visual one).
It was too crudely vulgar to be a good first date movie.

Ellen said...

I saw this with no preconceptions at a screening, and thought it was really funny.

Since I blog about everything, here's the detailed opinion:

Tim W. said...

I have a job with a film distributor where I go and watch trailers in theatres just about every weekend. What that means is that I see A LOT of trailers, A LOT of times. And I gauge the audience reaction for the trailers. Walk Hard generally got a half decent reaction, but mostly from the last line in the trailer, where he says "It ain't Cox, unless I say it tastes like Cox." The rest of it got little reaction, and the part with the Beatles looked dumb, but it's getting possibly the best reaction from people who've seen it. That tells me the people who made the trailer, and the people who agreed to the trailer, screwed up big time.

And by the way, P.S. I Love You always got a good reaction from the audience. Apparently their people did things right.

Anonymous said...

Funnily enough, tim w., the "tastes like Cox" bit didn't make the final cut of the film. That didn't bother me, because frankly (um, no pun intended), most of the Cox puns were pretty weak.

Anonymous said...

There's full frontal male nudity? I'm there! God help us if every movie has to be a "Good first date movie" and/or "appropriate" for uptight middle-aged married couples, as I'm neither.

I saw part of a promo on cable, with Dewey selling his sausages with "Start every morning with a delicious mouth full of Cox." Best advice I've heard in years. Dick jokes are my bread and butter. Sorry the poster doesn't read to people under 40, but as I'm 57, this is something for my generation, and I'm looking forward to it. It's my "Next see" movie, just as soon as I get over this bronchial infection I got seeing SWEENEY TODD. Folks, stay home if you're sick, like I'm doing right this moment.

And if it starred Will Ferrell, I wouldn't go.

Tim W. said...

I'm under 40 (okay, not by all that much), and I thought the poster was the most inspired part of the marketing. The first time I saw the poster I laughed, but I'm guessing it went right by most people.

Also, I can't believe no one has mentioned the tag line for the movie.
"Life made him tough. Love made him strong. Music made him hard."

I guess the subtlety was lost on most people.

Anonymous said...

Yes, if Will Ferrel were in it a lot more people would go.

I would even go.

For me the Apatow movies have been getting worse and worse (40 Year Old Virgin is fantastic, Knocked Up good (but with a horribly fake ending), Superbad just okay, and well... this odd little movie that seemed like an SNL sketch (but not a timely one.)

blogward said...

'Walk the Line' was too good and Johnny Cash was too well loved to spoof. And that's what the trailer makes it look like. And is John C. Reilly a lead actor? I don't think so.

Unknown said...

After I finally figured out that it wasn't a speed walking movie, I thought that it was just a Johnny Cash parody, but it was so much more, and the fact that it turned so many of rock music's iconic stories and personas inside out was brilliant. (Also, the soundtrack has a few truly great songs on it.)

I agree with the marketing issues, but also (and related)...

I think that this was a victim of the strike. Tim Meadows would have shown that marijuana clip on Conan, John C. Reilly would have sung a song on Leno, etc. People would have had a chance to get an idea of what this movie was about if the cast had been able to plant their butts on some couches.

Rob said...

First, let me say that I took my 6 year old to see Enchanted with my wife and all three of us had a wonderful time (after spending $48.50 for a Matinee).

As for Walk Hard, it wasn't aimed at the audience that was going to see the other Aptow comedies (and I have to say that I think Judd's movies are funny but incredibly overrated). It starred a guy who isn't known for comedy (or bringin' in the kids) and who isn't a "star".

And there is also the Spinal Tap factor. How many people actually thought this was either a documentary and/or a real biopic.

Big Murr said...

"Mockumentaries" bore me to tears. I know I risk an angry mob appearing outside when I say I derived more yawns than chuckles from "Spinal Tap".

I don't care who is in it or who made it.

Tom Quigley said...

Since fellow Rochester native Kristen Wiig is in it, I'll have to wholeheartedly encourage everyone to please go see it and make it a huge success... And as for me -- I'll pick it up the moment the DVD comes out -- and hits the clearance bins...

RC said...

I really wanted to see this movie but it came out right at Christmas which is a busy time. I think that hurt it.

Speaking for myself I want to watch a movie when there is nothing else to do. I don't want to skip other activities just to go watch a movie.

Anonymous said...

Great comments from everybody. I think the criticisms of the marketing effort must be dead on because I love John C. Reilly, I'm old enough to relate to the era, but the promotional efforts have failed to interest me in the slightest. There are at least three movies ahead of Walk Hard on my list. I'll catch it on Pay Per View.

Anonymous said...

Music parodies suffer from the same problem as sports parodies. The movies are pretty much a parody of themselves.

They follow a formulaic plot. The characters are very one dimensional. And they contribute little in the way of new information to even the casual fan.

If you have seen two sports and/or music movies, then you have seen them all.

Anonymous said...

From what I've seen in the marketing and the few reviews I've watched, I have no interest in seeing Walk Hard. And I like John C. Reily. But I don't see him carrying a picture. He's more a supporting cast, character actor. But mostly, who wants to see a spoof of music bio pictures during the holidays anyway? Maybe if the film were released in February when there wasn't as much competition, then it might have done better.

Anonymous said...

After reading these comments, I'm more apt to lay blame in two areas: marketing and the general audience's lack of openness to the idea of John carrying a movie (any movie, really) in a lead actor capacity. Oh, ye of little faith! I adore John in any role he does, and I happen to think he's rather versitle and talented, so when I first saw the promos I got excited to see him. I would pay to see a man who knows how to act and bring new layers to any character he deems worthy of playing. The man is a pro, and more people need to start cluing into the idea that he will be starring in movies from time to time, not just playing second bananas for his whole career.

Sheesh! And we say studio heads pigeonhole and stereotype actors!?


Anonymous said...

You need at least 2 of these 3 things to lure people into theaters these days.

1. Stars.

2. Special Effects.

3. Comedy.

Walk Hard only had comedy, but I think the marketing and title didn't lead people to that conclusion. As someone who use to work at a theater, you'd be surprised how many people just drive up and look at the marquee and base their decision of what to see on just the title or poster.

Anonymous said...

I think the problem was that it's a parody of a type of movie whose audience takes them very seriously. To enjoy a parody, you have to be familiar with the source material. You can like dumb action or horror movies and appreciate parodies of them all the more. But the people who went to see "Walk the Line" and "Ray" were adult fans of Johnny Cash and Ray Charles. They took their lives seriously, and didn't think things like drug addiction, blindness, racism and the death of a sibling were appropriate subjects for jokes.

Now that I know "Walk Hard" is more a parody of an entire era of popular music than of any one movie, I'm more interested in seeing it. But the trailer made it look like a straight-up goof on "Walk The Line," which made the queasy jokes about killing his brother just seem juvenile and offensive.

Anonymous said...

It's a farcical comedy making fun of Johnny Cash. He's a hero to a number of people, boarding on demi-god status.

"I know, let's make a movie spoofing Elvis!" Yeah, that'll draw an audience. Do they kick puppies over the end credits, too?

Comedy is all about making fun of the elite, taking the powerful down a peg. That's why Doctor Strangelove works so well, and Mash: all the authority figures are pompous imbeciles.

But making fun of Johnny Cash? A poor boy who fought his addictions and personal monsters to bring music to the world? Yeah, that's a ripe target for a comedic sucker punch.

I get the angle of it, mocking the self-importance of pretentious musicians but still, to a lot of people, it looks like a roast of Johnny Cash.

Emily Blake said...

I like John C. Reilly, but he is Will Farrell's sidekick, not a lead. As soon as I saw that he was the star of this film it made me think of all the times the studios have tried to tell me that Rob Schneider should be anything other than Adam Sandler's sidekick.

Anonymous said...

I don't think this movie was making fun of Elvis or Johnny Cash. Its targets are overserious, paint-by-numbers biopics. I thought it was often very funny, and yeah, probably would have done better (financially) if Will Ferrell was in the lead. But hey, it doesn't involve sports, which seems to be a Will Ferrell prerequisite these days.

Anonymous said...

Let's Duet? Brilliant.

Loved Walk Hard. I smiled all the way through.

There was a commentary in the LA Times saying that it's because people thought it was spoofing Cash or Ray specifically.

That's narrow thinking considering it's penned by Judd Apatow.

Anyway I think Cash would have laughed all the way through it.

Tim Meadows - "And you never paid for drugs. Ever."

He was hysterical.

Was it me or did John C sound a little like Roy Orbison at times??

Mark B.

CM said...

I also didn't know Jenna Fischer was in it, and I agree that the marketing, especially the black-and-white poster, didn't make this movie seem like a comedy. I get that it's a parody of the music biopic genre, but the movies in that genre of late have been sort of depressing. I know Judd Apatow is behind it, but I'm just not convinced enough that it will be funny, and if it's not funny it doesn't seem like there's much else redeeming about it.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that releasing an R rated movie over the holidays is a bad idea in itself. I spent the holidays hanging with my kids, we saw I am Legend and National Treasure: stuff a little more family friendly. Had it been the summer when I was looking for a break from the kids, I would have definately went to see Dewey.

Unknown said...

I chose to see Enchanted a third time rather than see Walk Hard. I think I was mostly turned off by the trailer, it didn't strike me as funny and the trailer itself just felt too long. I also got the vibe, like someone else said earlier, that it was just SNL type humor which to me means it has none. Despite the great buzz and reviews I just wasn't in to seeing it. Maybe partly because I haven't yet seen the biopics it's sending up.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. I put it to just plain bad marketing. This might be a fall guy, though, for an awkward-to-market film. In any case, the trailer didn't get anywhere near convincing me that I'd rather see it than Juno or Enchanted. I put it on my "rent on DVD" list, which is where most comedies end up. There's just not much room for non-action-oriented films in theaters for me.

I never saw this as a send-up of Johnny Cash or Ray Charles, for the record. It just seemed too likely to be "dumb" to make it worth taking a chance in the theater. And, I knew, if I was seeing it and thinking borderline-dumb, the whole dumb-movie crowd would be there in the theater annoying me the whole while I was watching the movie, no matter how "smart" it might end up actually being.

Anonymous said...

The failure of the film primarily hurts Reilly, I suppose, in that it may now be even more difficult for studios to justify giving him lead roles. At least he got the Golden Globe nomination before the film was released. He's probably the best reason to see "Walk Hard," not to avoid it.

I guess general audiences only know him from "Talladega Nights," but he's had a rather varied career, from all those P. T. Anderson films to "The Hours" to his Oscar nominated role in "Chicago." No offense, emily, but comparing him to Rob Schneider seems pretty far off the mark to me.

Anonymous said...

The movie is an indirect victim of the writers' strike. Were it not for the strike, all the film's stars would have been making the talk show rounds hyping the movie and trying to create a buzz. As it is, the lame trailer doesn't do the film justice.

Tim W. said...

Ya, I have to say, comparing an actor as respected, varied and nominated as John C. Reilly to Rob Schneider?? I don't think I've ever watched something with him in it and gone, "Wow, Rob Schneider was great in that.". I don't know if I've ever seen Reilly in anything where I didn't think he did a fantastic job. Wouldn't it be nice if guys with talent actually got leads, rather than guys like, of, say Keanu Reeves?

Speaking of stars, Judd seems to be trying to break out of the `you need a star to open a movie' thing. Knocked Up had Katherine Heigl, a television actress who I had never heard of, and a guy who had a small role in a hit the previous year. Superbad had even less star power. I commend Aptow for that. I noticed the next Aptow movie stars yet another secondary actor from Knocked Up. I'm sensing a theme here.

Little Miss Nomad said...

Paul Rudd was killer. I enjoyed the film, though it did stick a bit too close to Walk the Line, but there were certainly big laughs, and it was by far the best spoof film I've seen in ages. I just think it was a summer movie, and it shouldn't have been put out now. Just watch. Semi-Pro's gonna tank, too. I guarantee it. But the other thing is, it didn't look like a Judd Apatow film. It looked like another half-assed film by people who sometimes work with Judd. And the "Cox" part needed either to be blown up to absurd proportions or not used at all because the jokey name was never used properly. I don't know. There were just too many movies thrown out at the end of the year...

Anonymous said...

Well, I laughed. A lot. But after hearing the expanded soundtrack, with a mess of songs that didn't make the final cut, I'm thinking the DVD is going to be more flat-out funny. The movie suffered from (and this is a strange thing to say) too much narrative; it wasn't wild and random and unpredictable enough, and I think that's because Kasdan and Apatow felt compelled to structure it in a conventional way. I agree that the marketing was hurt, a lot, by the writers strike. Without Letterman, The Daily Show, Conan around to spread the word, and the cast (including Jenna) making the rounds, it was hard for the word to get out about Dewey Cox.

Cage Free Brown said...

shoot, did "the big lebowski" print money? "office space"?

I can't go a week without hearing a quote from either one of those. I don't know if I'll be hearing "walk hard" quoted in the future or not. I do know that I'm glad the movies that print money aren't the only ones I have to choose from.

Anonymous said...

"I like John C. Reilly, but he is Will Farrell's sidekick, not a lead."

Emily, what planet are you from? Will Farrell isn't worthy to lace Reilly's boots. I missed Will Farrell in BOOGIE NIGHTS, just who did he play in that?

As for it not being a good idea to release R-Rated movies during the holidays; SWEENEY TODD is doing all right. Those of us who are blessedly child-free need a movie or two we can go to where we are not forced to endure your shrieking spawn and cell-phone addicted teenyboppers.

I must confess, it was news to me that Johnny Cash is a hero to some. I never cared for his style of music (Country music? No thanks. Which is why I enjoy it being lambasted.), so I've encountered little of him. Mostly, to me, he's the guy who shoved Ida Lupino out of a plane on COLUMBO. Nor have I ever understood Elvis worship. Elvis and Groucho Marx died two days apart. I couldn't understand then and still don't understand now why people seemed more upset by this obese hillbilly junkie's inevitable overdose than by the loss of Groucho Marx, a man who was GOD to me.

So seeing the overly-revered satirized works for me just as well as Dr. Strangelove daring to portray the President as a buffoon, just two months after President Kennedy's assasination.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Johnny Cash is above parody, or maybe I wouldn't have enjoyed "Walk Hard." But he was one fantastic mofo. I thought EVERYBODY loved Johnny Cash, or at least respected him. Even people who hate country music seem to love the Man in Black.

He was a good actor, too, the few times he tried it (love that Columbo episode).

Tim W. said...

I think as soon as Johnny Cash made Johnny Cash-machine commercials, it was open season on him.

TheMuse said...

Ken, the movie title, ad campaign and billboard killed this movie. I LOVED IT and saw it twice. The first time at a producers guild screening where people were shouting "MORE" at the end. I felt it flew by and laughed my head off. Regarding the time period, my daughter and 20 of her friends saw it and also loved it. I can't believe word of mouth has not sold this film.
True, John C. Reilly is not an Apatow staple but he was awesome, as always.
Also the feast of top notch creative from the production of the film through the music was something many comedies never get near possessing. I think it will have a great life on DVD. I did my own word of mouth and viral campaign for this movie. It's a must see.

TheMuse said...

Another took me forever to see 40 Year Old Virgin because I hated the billboard. When I finally saw it I was amazed how good it was.
Apatow really knows how to do comedy with heart in a way no one else does.
Am I an obsessed fan? YES!

ajm said...

I saw WALK HARD over the weekend. For the very first time in my moviegoing career, I was the only person in the theater.

It's actually a pretty funny sendup of inspirational biopics, with decent running gags, and it's even funnier if you get the musical references. I've never seen THE OFFICE before, so I was surprised how cute Jenna Fischer is.

I've, um, acquired the soundtrack (choosing my language carefully to avoid the RIAA's wrath), and the WALK HARD songs, like those in SPINAL TAP and THE RUTLES, are still funny on the 2nd and 3rd listen. I think this film will do surprisngly well on DVD. As to why it's tanking now, who knows? THE RIGHT STUFF had a great cast, great screenplay, great direction, got great reviews... and it died in the theaters. Same with NASHVILLE.

Anonymous said...

Apatow's other films were "real" in that they dealt with real people getting into real problems in a funny and absurd way. This was a prolonged Saturday Night Live sketch. It was funny but not consistently so. And before I saw it, I read Ken's remarks that it was too long at 90 minutes. I thought Ken couldn't possibly be right, but he was. It's way too long.

It's a shame. It really is funny in places. John C. Reily is great. And many of the songs work well. It's just not as good as it should be.

As for why people avoided it from day 1 after only hearing good reviews, I blame the marketing campaign and that awful poster. I get that it's a parody poster, but it looked awful. Also, I think it's just plane hard to see what is a parody and not a funny story about people.

SoNSo1 said...

They allowed you to see the first 10 minutes online. I watched it there first. It sucked. The problem is that those 10 minutes were horrible. It didn't get good (or to a semblance of good) until after he smoked marijuana.

Perhaps people caught it online because they couldn't catch it on a talk show and were turned off by it?

Anonymous said...

"I thought EVERYBODY loved Johnny Cash, or at least respected him. Even people who hate country music seem to love the Man in Black."

I don't disrespect him. He was not on my radar at all. What I saw on the rare occassions when I glimpsed him on TV before changing the channel, was a man with silly hair wearing affected clothes, growling a stupid song about a man named Sue. This didn't inspire respect. This particular people who hates country music doesn't encounter it much, and it's purveyors seldom cross my path.

He was good in the COLUMBO episode, though by halfway through it I was sick to death of that aweful "I Saw The Li-ight" song they played over and over and over and over. I began to think maybe Ida had jumped out of the plane, to get away from that song.

I've not seen or read his bios or biopic, as I was not interested in him, so his saga isn't part of my folklore.

So nothing against him, but very little in his favor either, for me.

On the other hand, I know every arcane bit of Marx Brothers biographical trivia imaginable.

blogward said...

'Walk Hard' started off as a slavish pastiche of 'Walk the Line' - but it wasn't a Johnny Cash spoof. In fact, it's hard to tell what it was a spoof of. People who have never been near a rock band still think 'Spinal Tap' was a documentary; there's no way you could make this mistake with 'Walk Hard' - which is why it comes over as such a bad spoof of the genre. Anyway, if you like Johnny Cash's deadpan 'acting', find 'Murder in Coweta County'.

Anonymous said...

d. mcewan, your analysis of the Columbo episode (maybe Ida jumped out of the plane to get away from that song) had me laughing so hard I started crying. I also only knew Cash through that role. He was terrific as an actor, but it didn't make me any more interested in hearing him sing.

As for the movie? Saw lots about it, had no interest. Had no idea that Apatow was associated, although that wouldn't have done much for me (his TV shows seemed a lot more mature than his movies). And John C. Reilly is not going to open a movie, ever.

Seems like the kind of music geek who would really get it would be too mature/sophisticated for the Will Ferrell-type raunchy "comedy". Lots of other interesting theories here, too.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the comments that music biopics weren't ripe for parody. "Walk the Line" and "Ray" are essentially the same movie (same plot, different characters). And those are just two recent movies in a long line of formulaic "based on reality" biopics. "Walk Hard" went even further than just parodying specific movies, to parodying genres of music and even events in musicians' lives not depicted in movies.

Emily Blake said...

I didn't mean to imply that Reilly was not a talented actor. I loved him in Chicago.

But I just don't think of him as a lead. He's more of a supporting guy in my mind, that's the only way I ever meant to imply that he's like Rob Schneider. They're both supporting guys, not leads.

Reilly is infinitely more talented in that capacity.

Tim Susman said...

We saw "Walk Hard" last week (it was a tossup between that and "Charlie Wilson's War"). Went in knowing not much about it and left thoroughly entertained. We haven't seen "Walk the Line," but did see "Ray," and it was funny anyway. I thought the narrative really helped the movie--if it'd just been a parody, it would've stalled partway through. But there was a story in there behind the comedy, which is what I think Apatow does so well usually.

Funny, Ken, that you felt it was long. We all thought it felt short, but ended up being just about the right length. And we all liked the songs (I was just this morning listening to the soundtrack)--they do hold up, as ajmilner said.

Why didn't it do well? I tend to agree with the "poorly marketed" angle (certainly it wasn't a commercial or trailer that made me want to see it). I think it should've been tied more closely to "Ray" and "Walk the Line" without necessarily coming off as a parody of them, because it really kind of works as a funny biopic in its own right, even if a lot of the gags are takeoffs of those two movies.

Tim Meadows was perfect and hysterical in his supporting role. And John C. Reilly is great, definitely a lead actor in my book. Though I will say that just given the cast and tone of the movie, I expected to see Will Ferrell in it at some point...

Anonymous said...

blogward: Since "Walk Hard" is not a mock-documentary a la "Spinal Tap," of course no one would mistake it for a real documentary, any more than they did with "Walk the Line" (I hope!).

d. mcewan: Despite being born and raised in Kentucky, I'm not much of a country fan either, but always made an exception for Johnny Cash, who unlike a lot of country artists was always accepted by the rock crowd (friend of Dylan and all that). Diff'rent strokes, of course, but I heartily disagree that "A Boy Named Sue" is a stupid song. It's a novelty song, yes, but a pretty funny piece of songwriting by the great Shel Silverstein.

We can definitely agree on Groucho, though. He's been a hero of mine since at least my teens.

D said...

The marketing was a disaster. It mostly confused me, making me think it was, at first, some kind of high brow comedy. Later after learning Apatow was involved, I got it, but still was confused.

Unknown said...

The NFL also promoted the movie - I think on Monday Night Football - with Reilly singing an opening promo sequence of "Block Hard" to open the game. It didn't really work in that spot - didn't get the adrenaline flowing for the upcoming game, seemed kinda flat, and probably made a lot of viewers wonder "what's going on here?". So I'm going to go with the poor marketing crowd.

Anonymous said...

Premise is the word "Cox" repeated endlessly. Not a premise for a successful movie.

TheMuse said...

This is definitely a hard movie to pull clips from so watching the first 10 minutes free is another marketing nightmare. One of the few clips that work is when Reilly is first getting it on with Jenna Fischer and his wife walks in. "It's not what it looks like." After that it's a real toss up, just doesn't clip well.

TCinLA said...

Saw this this afternoon, on SWMBO's request. Both of us old enough to know the scene being parodied.

Sorry - it wasn't knowledgeable enough. The thing about "Spinal Tap" is that it is real (in an unreal way). I remember hearing Tom Petty go on and on once about how seeing the guys lost under the stage reminded him of getting lost under the stage of the Hammersmith Odeon during the Heartbreakers' first European tour - listening to him, you could tell the movie "got it." That was because the people who made "Spinal Tap" knew the milieu and loved it.

Unfortunately, Judd Apatow and a gaggle of Gen-Xers whose closest connection to the reality of what they are trying to parody is that they have seen some biopics, doesn't cut it. I was around a lot of the music and events and the milieu they are trying to send up, and they weren't within a kilometer (let alone a mile) of "getting it."

And the interesting thing is you don't have to know this stuff - as I do - to know they don't "get it," just like you don't have to have been lost under the stage of the Hammersmith Odeon to know that the ST guys do "get it."

The audience can detect bullshitting (which is not the same thing as bullshit), and this movie is just a bunch of third-rate bullshitting by a bunch of dorks who aren't as hip as everyone tells them they are. They think "ironic detachment" from what they don't know allows them to point at it and sniff in the kind of way that makes me want to take that kind of pseudo-hip (but really a lame loser) person when I meet them out to a dark alley behind the joint and give them a Serious Lesson in "the real deal."

I guess this is probably why I think everything else this overrated schmuck does is, well, overrated. But given the level of moron stupidity running Hollywood these days, those idiots think it's good, and Apatow does (mostly) prove with his career that Mencken was right: "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people."

All these little putzes know is sitting in the dark watching movies, and nothing about life as lived by actual human beings - the main failing of most "film brats" and the reason 98% of what gets made today isn't worth the cost of the raw film stock.

Although I did like "Anchorman."

Anonymous said...

tcinla: Um, "Spinal Tap" was a mock-doc; "Walk Hard" is a parody of musical biopics. The major "reality" Apatow and company have to be concerned with is that which is presented in said biopics. They aren't "pointing and sniffing" at the reality of the musical legends being parodied, but of the Hollywoodization of same.

And if audiences are so great at detecting "bullshitting," how is everyone getting rich off of underestimating their intelligence? :) That's rhetorical; I know these things aren't mutually exclusive, and I'm a big fan of Mencken's quote.

But even with "Walk Hard" excepted, how can you say Apatow knows nothing of life as it is lived by actual human beings? Allowing for comic exaggeration, there's oodles of recognizable human behavior in "The 40 Year Old Virgin," "Knocked Up" and "Superbad," however overrated you may find them. But I guess I'm just one of those "idiots" who "thinks" they're good (too bad I don't quite reach that level of "moron stupidity" required to run Hollywood).

CC News Feeds said...

it just wasn't that funny.

Anonymous said...

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is the soundtrack to the 2007 film Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.

It was almost like a Manhattan Project for songwriters,” says Bern. “It was the most fun thing I’ve ever done.
Dan Bern, 2007

The cast and crew recorded 40 original songs;[2] 33 are featured in the movie.[3] Singer-songwriter Dan Bern and Mike Viola (of the Candy Butchers) wrote most of the film’s songs, including “There’s a Change a Happenin’”, “Mulatto” and “Hole in My Pants”. Marshall Crenshaw wrote the title tune and Van Dyke Parks penned one of the 1960-styled psychedelic jams, “Black Sheep”.

Track listing

iTunes exclusive extended edition

1. “Take My Hand”
2. “Jump Little Children”
3. “(Mama) You Got to Love Your Negro Man”
4. “That’s Amore”
5. “Walk Hard”
6. “A Life Without You (Is No Life At All)”
7. “(I Hate You) Big Daddy”
8. “Walk Hard (Punk Version)”
9. “Let’s Duet”
10. “Darling”
11. “Guilty As Charged”
12. “There’s a Change A’ Happening (I Can Feel It)”
13. “Dear Mr. President”
14. “Hey Mr. Old Guy”
15. “Ladies First”
16. “The Mulatto Song”
17. “Let Me Hold You (Little Man)”
18. “Hole In My Pants”
19. “Royal Jelly”
20. “Farmer Glickstein”
21. “Black Sheep”
22. “Walk Hard (70’s TV Show Theme)”
23. “Who Wants to Party”
24. “Weeping On the Inside”
25. “Billy, Don’t Be a Hero”
26. “Walk Hard (All-Star Version)”
27. “Beautiful Ride”
28. “(Have You Heard the News) Dewey Cox Died”
29. “Cut My Brother In Half Blues”
30. “(You Make Me So) Hard”