Any day now, people are gonna start gunning for the fall of writer/director/producer Judd Apatow, who—apparently—is incapable of failure. Stacking up an overwhelming pile of great to near-great movies (including The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad, and Anchorman), Apatow has officially set the new standard for screen comedy: smart, profane, and generally pants-poop funny. And while his newest production, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, may not reach the comedic heights of the previously named works, it's surprisingly successful for what is pretty much a one-trick pony.
In a nutshell, Walk Hard is a parody of every ridiculously overblown music biopic produced within the last 20 years. Whether it's La Bamba, Ray, or Walk the Line, Walk Hard hilariously skewers every cliché these screenplays trot out. Perhaps most slyly, the film brings attention to how Hollywood mythologizes musicians in a manner that's almost rote: terrible childhood, early stardom, divorce, drug habit, rocky new marriage, fall from stardom, creative block, self-discovery, and finally, redemption. (Oh, and then death. I always forget death.)
John C. Reilly is great in the role of Dewey Cox, a Kris Kristofferson-ish figure who accidentally chops his brother in half with a machete and spends the rest of his famous life trying to redeem himself—in increasingly hilarious ways. SNL's Kristen Wiig shines as his beleaguered first wife, and in a film populated by musical giants (such as Elvis and Buddy Holly) perhaps my favorites were Paul Rudd, Jack Black, Jason Schwartzman, and Justin Long as the bickering, doltish Beatles (in my mind a pretty realistic re-creation).
And while I had my doubts about what I knew was going to basically be a one-joke premise, Walk Hard is pretty satisfying all the way through—thanks largely to the talents of those involved, and especially Apatow... the most unfuckwithable man in Hollywood.