“Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” and the musical biopic


Photo: “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story”


Country rock singer Dewey Cox has lived a lifetime. As a child, his brother died by being cut in half with a machete, and then his mother died listening to his music. Dewey Cox was no stranger to drug addiction and divorce, but through it all he continued to make music. Dewey Cox has had a fascinating career and life, which are entirely fictional. Yes, you have that right. Dewey Cox is a fictional character and is not a real rock singer. 2007’s’Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story‘is a parody of the musical biopics trend, poking fun at the tropes often associated with the genre. Parodying the genre, “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” not only deconstructs the musical biopic genre, but also creates a hilarious story in the process.

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Take yourself too seriously

‘Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story’, directed by Jake Kasdan and written by him and Judd Apatow, acts as a parody of movies like “Walk the Line” and “Ray”. The film is clearly a parody of “Walk the Line,” which is the Johnny Cash biopic released in 2005. Apatow and Kasdan said they watched several biopics as research for the film and noticed how Oscar winners they all got. These films often try to score Oscar nominations with powerful performances and a serious tone. This can still be seen today with Oscar-winning films like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody‘and Oscar-winning films like’ Stardust ‘and’The respect‘.

John C. Reilly plays the fictional Dewey Cox with a seriousness close to that of Joaquin phoenix like Johnny Cash and Jamie foxx like Ray Charles. In the movie, Dewey Cox has several scenes where he is decomposition, poking fun at the scenes in the musical biopics where the star has an emotional breakdown (the scenes that are typically shown at Oscar ceremonies). The joke of many of these breakdowns is either caused by absurd circumstances, like the complicated Rube Goldberg manner that Dewey’s mother (Margo Martindale), or immediately interrupted by Cox realizing it would make a good song.

One of the strengths of the film is that the characters are not in the game. In many recent comedy films, there is a sense of meta-commentary where the characters are aware of themselves and emphasize the surrounding absurdism. Think of all the modern jokes that include a character saying “Well, it just happened”. In ‘Walk Hard’, on the other hand, the characters take everything around them seriously and there is no sense of self-awareness. In a hilarious scene that demonstrates this lack of self-awareness,

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Dewey Cox performs at his school talent show. In the scene, fourteen-year-old Dewey Cox is still played by Reilly, poking fun at the way the older actors play high school kids. This joke is reinforced by the fact that Reilly is paired with real high school kids, goofy clumsiness and all. Neither character sees the joke and plays it with a straight face. This scene also satirizes the idea of ​​”devil’s music”, poking fun at the idea of ​​how rock and roll was viewed at the time. The film interprets this hysteria by asking teenage girls to strip as if they are hypnotized while Cox performs and punching the men into battle, satirizing how people thought rock music would make girls more libertine and boys. more violent. The absurdity of the scene, like many other scenes in the film, is played straight out, adding to the humor of the joke. Taking every joke seriously, the film only heightens the humor by bringing out the irony even more.

‘Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story’ – Following the rhythms of a biopic

“Walk Hard” follows the predictable rhythms and formula of the story that we associate with the musical biopic. One trope we have become familiar with is the tragic backstory. Biopics, especially musical biopics, typically show the tragic events that happened in the star’s life, especially during her childhood. At a time ‘Walk the line‘ and ‘Ray‘, the tragic backstory involved the death of a brother. In ‘Walk Hard’, this trope is reversed. Parodying more precisely “Walk the Line”, the brother of Dewey, Nate, dies by get cut in half but lives long enough to have a full conversation with Dewey, implanting in his mind that he must be doubly awesome for both of them. The scene then escalates the comedy by parodying ‘Ray’, immediately causing Dewey to lose his sense of smell to add insult to injury. The ridiculousness of Nate’s death and the immediate tragedy of Dewey turned “blind nose” is the perfect ironic take on the tragic backstory.

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Another trope that “Walk Hard” reverses is the drug addiction trope. Drugs are an integral part of a rockstar’s way of life due to the ideas of party and club culture. They are practically unavoidable and this aspect is shown in many musical biopics like ‘Rocket man‘and’ The Doors’. ‘Walk Hard’ parodies this with the character of Sam (Tim meadows) always convincing Dewey do not take drugs like him while describing them in the most seductive way possible. Part of the joke is the rehearsal of that script, where there are several different scenes of Dewey catching Sam on drugs and Sam convincing Dewey that he “doesn’t want any of this shit”. The final conclusion is that when they are old, Dewey catches Sam taking ED medication, which is the first time Dewey has ever said no to drugs. Even if it would be easy to joke at the expense of drug addicts, it would be a big blow. Instead of hitting, the movie pokes fun at how these movies romanticize drugs by making them look romantic and flirty.

There are many other tropes besides the “Walk Hard” parodies, ranging from musical montages coinciding with the character who becomes famous to the classic trope of proving himself to the music producer. using just one song. Apatow and Kasdan said they watched a lot of biopics in preparation for the film and it’s very clear that they did. You can’t watch the movie without noticing which movie a joke is referring to. By parodying mainstream tropes and making these references, “Walk Hard” highlights just how stereotypical these types of films can be. While parodying these tropes, “Walk Hard” also becomes a musical biopic in itself, though not based on a real person.

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“Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” is one of the best parody films ever made. The film is a humorous version of the biopic and John C. Reilly shines as the titular Dewey Cox. Reilly, along with the rest of the cast, is fully committed to their characters and the absurdity of the world around them. By taking everything around them so seriously, the comedy is only reinforced since the only people involved in the joke are the audience. The film’s take on common tropes and plot points associated with musical biopics make the film an ironic love letter to the genre. “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story” is a must-read for comedy fans and music fans.

‘Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story’ is available to watch on Hulu

Director: Jake Kasdan Screenwriters: Jake Kasdan and Judd Apatow

Actors: John C. Reilly, Jenna Fischer, Tim Meadows, Kristen Wiig

By Brianna Benozich

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