Film: Walk Hard

A 2007 Judd Apatow movie that parodies musical biopics like Walk the Line and Ray. Failed to make much of a splash in the box office, but is one of the better post-The Naked Gun parody movies.

Walk Hard tells the tale of Dewey Cox, a musical prodigy whose musical career spanned the 50's to the 70's. Along the way Dewey takes lots of drugs, bangs lots of groupies and eventually learns that the path to happiness lies in spending time with his dozens of illegitimate children. It's not the kind of a movie you watch for the plot.

Walk Hard stars John C. Reilly, who spent a year recording 40-plus of the songs that his character supposedly wrote. He proves himself to be a more than capable singer and he approaches the ludicrous situations with the same sincerity he uses in his more serious dramatic turns (The Aviator, Magnolia, Gangs of New York, We Need to Talk About Kevin).

Walk Hard provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: "I never realized until this moment how easy it is to accidentally cut someone in half with a machete..."
  • Affectionate Parody: To musical biopics generally, and Walk the Line and Ray more specifically.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: How dare you, Edith? You drink all Dewey's milk, but you condemn him for a little bigamy?!
  • As You Know / Captain Obvious: Any celebrity who appears will loudly announce who they are multiple times. This is done to self-consciously highlight the fact that they (intentionally) put absurdly little effort into imitating the celebrities they're supposed to be.
    George Harrison: It's so dark in this tent, y'know, it reminds me of when we, the Beatles, the four Beatles...
    Paul McCartney: From Liverpool.
    John Lennon: We are from Liverpool.
    George Harrison: ...used to play those dark clubs in Hamburg. You remember that, Paul?
    Paul McCartney: Of course I do, I booked 'em. [beat] I'm the leader of the Beatles.
  • Awkward Father-Son Bonding Activity: As Dewey's life crashes around him, one of his many sons asks him if he'd like to play catch. This simple act acts as a catalyst for him rebuilding his life.
  • Binge / Drunken / Sad Times / Sex Montage: "God damn, this is a dark fucking period!"
  • Bio Pic: Parodied. Very much.
  • Casting Gag: Jack Black and Jack White both in cameos. Don't try to convince yourself this is a coincidence
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Dewey's brother. Well he is played by Jonah Hill...
  • Country Matters
  • Cover Version: One of the songs attempted during Dewey's first recording session? A country version of "That's Amore". It's so bad that it shakes the producer's faith in the Jewish people.
    • Later, during Dewey's disastrous 70s variety show, he does a disco cover of David Bowie's "Starman." The music actually isn't half-bad, but he does it in a goofy spacesuit costume surrounded by go-go dancers.
  • Creator Breakdown: In-universe; Dewey's lengthy and bizarre production of his masterpiece during the The Sixties is taken from Brian Wilson's infamous Smile album.
    Dewey: I want 50,000 didgeridoos!
    • Many of Dewey's other songs are also not-entirely-well-veiled references to other issues going on in his life as well (from his difficult relationship with his father to how he'd very much like to sleep with his backup singer).
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: See Drugs Are Bad below.
  • Double Entendre: The entire "Let's Duet" sequence.
    Dewey: In my dreams you're blowin' me, some kisses / You and I could go down, in history / I'm gonna beat off, all my demons.
    • Here I am a-sneaking up behind you/You can always come in my backdoor
  • Drugs Are Bad / Drugs Are Good: Played with. Dewey frequently opens a door to find Sam behind it, indulging in some illicit narcotics in the company of some beautiful women. Sam always insists that Dewey wants no part of it, only to then insistently list all the benefits of doing that particular drug. Dewey inevitably ends up hooked on it.
    • But he really doesn't want none of that stuff that gives you a boner.
    • "It's marijuana, Dewey. You don't want no part of this shit." "It's cocaine, Dewey. You don't want no part of this shit." "We're doing pills— uppers and downers. It's the logical next step for you.""I want me some of that shit!"
    • Sam seems to have no problem with drugs other than resenting Dewey for never paying for them, but sure enough, Dewey has to go to rehab.
  • Duet Bonding: Dewey and Darlene.
  • Easily Forgiven: Dewey lies to Darlene (and probably cheats on her with Anything That Moves), ignores all his children, is a Jerkass and The Prima Donna to his band, is extremely selfish in general, but they all take him back with open arms when he needs them.
  • Erotic Eating: Dewey and Darlene do this with soft-serve ice cream cones in the Let's Duet montage.
  • Eureka Moment: Every song Dewey comes up with.
  • Explosive Breeder: Edith is constantly pregnant, she and Dewey have approximately 10 children in less than seven years... Dewey himself has several dozen more over the years.
  • Falling in Love Montage: Seen between Dewey and Darlene. As it happens, their montage includes such questionable activities as licking, sucking, slurping ice-cream cones with very ambiguous expressions...
  • Fan Disservice: John C Reilly, naked. Ew.
    • In the extended cut, this is actually avoided in one scene where an obvious body double with heavily muscular features is used during a sex scene.
  • Fanservice Extra: Dewey has some really good-looking groupies.
  • First Girl Wins: Subverted with Dewey eventually falling in love with his back up singer, Darlene and divorcing his first wife, whom had previously won.
  • Flashback Stares: Right before he begins an act, Dewey can be found staring at a wall in the dark, backstage. His best friend explains that he has to think back on his entire life before every show.
  • Foreshadowing: Dewey noticed there's some argument among the Beatles.
  • Hates the Job, Loves the Limelight: Dewey fell HARD during The Seventies.
  • Hope Spot: Played for laughs, it finally looked like that Pa was going to forgive Dewey and reconcile. Until his wife died...
  • How We Got Here
    "Dewey Cox has to remember his entire life story before he performs."
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Near the end, Dewey is stumbling around fighting off "The Temptations". Cue the clean-cut boy band.
  • Insane Troll Logic: The reverend when proving "take my hand" means satanism.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Parodied. He can't smell, but he still manages to learn how to play guitar. By ear.
  • It Will Never Catch On: At the height of his hard drug problem, Dewey starts shouting instead of signing and telling his band to play extremely fast and dissonantly. One of his band members is disgusted by the result — nobody's ever going to listen to this garbage, especially not with Dewey singing like some kind of "punk".
    • Dewey's family and wife are constantly telling him he'll never gonna make it even after he has already made it.
  • Jerk Ass: Dewey Cox
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre
    Darlene: You know I suffer the same temptations you do. Sometimes when I'm lyin' in bed, I ache for a man's touch... and by a man's touch, I mean a penis in my vagina.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Much of the movie's humor is based around lampshading all sorts of old rock & roll tropes and cliches as much as possible.
  • Mad Artist: Dewey plays this up in his Creator Breakdown.
  • Male Frontal Nudity
    Note: I must mention one peculiar element in the film. As Reilly is having a telephone conversation, a male penis is framed in the upper right corner of the screen. No explanation about why, or who it belongs to or what happens to it. Just a penis. I think this just about establishes a standard for gratuitous nudity. Speculate as I will, I cannot imagine why it's in the film. Did the cinematographer look through his viewfinder and say, "Jake, the upper right corner could use a penis"?
    • It's a subversion of the expectation that explicit male nudity is taboo. The previous shot is after all of the same naked man from behind, to make us think that the nudity is just going to be implied as usual. It then becomes a Running Gag to cut back to the penis as much as possible.
  • Naked People Are Funny
  • The New Rock & Roll: The movie parodies the panic over rock and roll in the 1950s; at his high school talent show, Dewey and his band perform a sweet, gentle pop ballad called "Take My Hand" about two people holding hands. It immediately turns all the teenage girls present into sex-crazed nymphos, the teenage boys into violent thugs, and causes the older generation to picket Dewey's house with Torches and Pitchforks screaming about how he's going straight to hell:
    Preacher: You think we don't know what you mean when you say 'Take My Hand'?
    Dewey: [Bewildered] Whaddaya mean? It's about holding hands.
    Preacher:You know who else had hands? The Devil! And he uses 'em for holdin'!
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Averted as the fake celebrities keep mentioning that exactly who they are, no matter how bad the impression is.
  • Offing the Offspring: Dad's ultimate plan for Dewey. It backfired.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Parodied mercilessly by "The Beatles", particularly by Jack Black as Paul McCartney, who practically delivers each of his lines with a different accent.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Dewey's father, who realizes how easy it apparently is to accidentally cut a person in half with a machete only after being cut in half with said machete.
  • Running Gag: Everytime something goes wrong for Dewey, he rips one or more sinks off the walls.
    • "Wrong kid died!"
    • "Get outta here, Dewey! You don't want no part of this shit!"
    • "You're never gonna make it!"
    • "It's not what it looks like!" (It is what it looks like.)
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll
  • Show Within a Show: Dewey's schlocky 70's TV show.
  • Shout-Out: The ghosts of Dewey's parents, brother, and ex-manager all appearing at the end is similar to the Force ghosts of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Anakin watching Luke in Return of the Jedi.
  • The Sixties (Parodied)
  • Spirit Advisor: Dewey's brother
  • The Stinger: We catch a glimpse of "the real Dewey Cox."
  • Stylistic Suck: (Played with) There are numerous spoof songs that evoke everything from Johnny Cash to Bob Dylan to the Beach Boys, but they're all funny and well done.
  • Take That: Dewey constantly pulling sinks out of the wall serves as one to Walk the Line.
    • The Beatles deliver one to their bandmate Ringo, as they remind him he should be glad they let him keep playing the drums. Paul and John make increasingly-mean shots at each other as well, and openly ignore George's legitimate attempts to write music so they can bicker. This a major source of Shown Their Work as Paul and John having trouble connecting with their differing music styles and George becoming a more active (and ignored) songwriter were all major reasons for the Beatles breaking up.
  • Tantrum Throwing: A standard event when Dewey experiences some life setback.
  • Tempting Fate: Pretty much every single thing Nate says or does before they play machete fight.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: Dewey regains his sense of smell when reuniting Darlene, smelling her hair, then sniffing horse manure rapturously.
  • The Unfavorite: Dewey to his father.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Spoofed to hell and back. Everything he does is designed to impress his father, but no matter what he does, he gets only one response:
    Dad: The wrong kid died!
    • Even when the scene when he FINALLY starts to enjoy his son's music and dances with his wife, his wife dies tragically when she dances out the window. Naturally, Dad blames Dewey for it.
    • He even sings that while there's nobody else around.
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Dewey's brother was ludicrously talented and ambitious. Dewey, not so much.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Parodied during Dewey's 'Dylan' phase.
    Mailboxes drip like lampposts in the twisted birth canal of the coliseum
    Rim job fairy teapots mask the temper tantrum O' say can you see 'em
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Invoked deliberately for the purposes of comedy. Weirdly, all the choices somehow make sense when viewed through the twisted logic of the film.
  • You Should Have Died Instead: "The wrong kid died!"