Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Hello...Dewey Cox

Well, hello there! I'm Lisa, and I'm new to the blogging world. So, please be gentle. What I want to do with this journal is basically transcribe my thoughts on films - new, old, whatever I've seen. It's my stab at being a critic. :) There will be the occasional digression from film, but I won't ever go too far away. I love writing and just graduated from Columbia College Chicago. I have a BA in Film with a concentration in Critical Studies. And since I just finished a little over a week ago, I'm itching to write about cinema. I don't want to get rusty. So, here I am!

For my first review, I wish I was writing about something really serious and artsy like Citizen Kane or even a more recent film that I loved like No Country for Old Men. Instead, I'm writing about the movie (yes, I'm one of those that distinguishes "movie" from "film") I saw tonight, on Christmas Eve, so it's still fresh in my mind. That movie would be Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. I really mean no disrespect - it's actually kind of fun that my entry in here focuses on Dewey Cox. Sheesh, why does it always sound so wrong? But seriously, I'm not a film snob. I've known a lot of them, and I can't stand them. I love independent art films, but I don't love them because they're independent art films. I just see films I want to see. I love Harry Potter and Spielberg as much as I love Todd Solondz and The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly. I'm eclectic, but you'll find that out.

So, I'm not at all ashamed of seeing Walk Hard or writing about it for my first review. Is it a great movie? Definitely not. But it was a lot of fun, and I'm so happy to finally see John C. Reilly get the spotlight he deserves, even though the movie flopped at the box office. Walk Hard is also part of the ever-increasing Judd Apatow empire, co-written by Apatow himself. It pales in comparison to two other Apatow vehicles of this year - Knocked Up and Superbad. But I love Walk Hard's spirit, because I loathe those musical biopics. This movie completely knocks them on their collective behind. The plot is so convoluted and preposterous that it just made me smile. And all the actors (a hodgepodge of SNL/Office cast members) deliver their dialogue with the perfect amount of sincerity, that is to say, just a drop too much, and we can see them winking the whole time.

I think a lot of people are going to take Reilly's singing for granted in the film, but it should be applauded. He stole the show in Chicago with his Mr. Cellophane routine. As Dewey Cox, he manages to adapt to every possible genre and singing style imaginable with what seems to be the greatest of ease. There's also so much nuance there. Listen to his delivery of the word "hard" in the title track. It's brilliant. There's some Will Ferrell-esque moments in this movie during which Reilly just exploits his...um...no offense, John C. Reilly...unattractiveness. I'm not saying he's ugly! He's just not "Hollywood" hot or in the greatest shape and embraces it. There's a scene with the wonderful Jenna Fischer, playing his June Carter, looking gorgeous in lingerie, and then in comes Reilly, gut sticking out. In another scene, he runs through the streets in only his underwear. Kudos, man.

The movie felt a bit long and clunky - Apatow always has a problem with length. I didn't laugh out loud many times, but I sure chuckled quietly a lot. The songs are really creative, and it's so much smarter than any of those idiotic Scary Movie/Date Movie abominations. Is it scathing and brilliant? Not so much, but it's not for lack of trying. Reilly plays the hell out of Dewey Cox, and he deserves his Golden Globe nomination. He's a joy to watch, and I hope the lackluster box office doesn't affect any future endeavors. He's a star, and more people need to realize it.

Some great cameos, and some very quotable lines. I'm all about great quotes. I think my favorite, and it might just be me being weird, is: "I smell you, twig!" I know that probably needs explanation and context, but I'll let you discover for yourself. :) So, I am recommending this movie. Actually, I'm listening to a couple tracks I downloaded from the soundtrack now, and I think I'm growing more fond of it by the minute. I'm also astounded by the considerable lack of penis jokes based on his name. I thought they would be all over the place, but it was minimal and choice. Congrats, Apatow and director/co-writer Jake Kasdan, on not letting that joke get old. Dewey Cox's masterpiece song is called "Beautiful Ride" (no, I'm not ruining anything). Well, I don't know if I would call the ride beautiful, but it sure was fun.

Rating: ***1/2 (out of 5)

No comments: