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With the number of musical biographies hitting the local multiplex on the rise, it was becoming apparent that the genre was literally begging to parodied and generally skewered. Enter WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY ($44), which joyfully lampoons all of the genre’s clichés and hits the nail on the head more times than it misses. Screenwriters Judd Apatow and Jake Kasdan provide a lot of funny material for the cast to work with, but star John C. Reilly is the heart and soul of this movie delivering not only the comedy, but also a marvelous musical performance that brings a level of sincerity to his songs, which only serves to strengthen the film’s sense of humor. I’ve enjoyed Reilly’s work over the years, and I am glad the WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY has come along to showcase the actor’s talents.

In WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY, Reilly portrays the title character, whose rock-n-roll musical career spanned decades. The premise of the film finds the elder Dewey Cox reflecting back on his life, just as he is about to take the stage one more time. With his life playing out as an extended flashback, we encounter Dewey as a young boy, who has a personal tragedy that starts him on the road to his musical career. Next we encounter him as a teenager (hilariously embodied by Reilly) when his evil sexually charged rock-n-roll music makes him an outcast to his father and his morally uptight community. Success initially finds Dewey as a contemporary of Elvis and carries him into the psychedelic sixties, and later into the disco laden seventies, when he is forced to capitalize on his name via a TV variety show, after his artistic burnout. Along the way is plenty of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll, not to mention children, failed marriages, prison and near madness. The cast of WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY also features Jenna Fischer, Raymond J. Barry, Margo Martindale, Kristen Wing, Chip Hormess, Conner Rayburn, Tim Meadows, Chris Parnell, Matt Besser, David Krumholtz, Nat Faxon, Harold Ramis, Phil Rosenthal, Martin Starr, John Ennis, Frankie Muniz, Jack White, Eddie Vedder, Jackson Browne, Jewel Kilcher, Lyle Lovett, Jack Black, Justin Long, Paul Rudd and Jason Schwartzman.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Shot with the Panavision Genesis cameras, WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY makes for a fairly excellent 1080p presentation, with Dewey’s boyhood flashback moments appearing exceptionally beautiful. Image sharpness and detail can be impressive, some stylized moments can be a little softer, but usually textures, individual hairs and pores in the actor’s skin are readily apparent. Colors tend to be very vibrant and threaten to leap off the screen. Blacks are deep and the whites are clean. Contrast and shadow detail are above average for a screen comedy. There is no actual grain, but there is a bit of noise in some of the darker scenes.

WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. While much of the film is of a talky comedy nature, I found the soundtrack to be especially pleasing during the film’s musical numbers. The songs have tremendous presence and excellent fidelity. Sound effects are nicely integrated into the mix, plus there is a strong sense of ambience, which helps create natural sonic environments. Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand. A French Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is also provided, as are Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks. Subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Chinese and Thai.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc’s interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials, which have been spread across both discs of this set. The primary supplement on disc one is the Unbearably Long, Self-Indulgent Director's Cut, which runs twenty-four minutes longer than the theatrical version of the film and is presented via seamless branching. Personally, I found the aptly named Unbearably Long, Self-Indulgent Director's Cut to be very rewarding; however, the theatrical version is certainly tighter and the comedy rhythm is easier to sustain in the shorter form. Disc one also features a running Audio Commentary with John C. Reilly, director/ co-writer Jake Kasdan, and co-writer/producer Judd Apatow and producer Lew Morton. Disc one also allows one access to the Profile 2.0 BD-Live mini-featurettes, which allow for down-loadable content for those with a suitably equipped Blu-ray player. I found the download times to be slow and the mini-featurettes could have just as easily been included on the disc. However, the concept of BD-Live is intriguing and hopefully it will be put to better use in the future.

Moving on to disc two, one will find the remainder of the supplemental programming. Full Song Performances is fairly self explanatory, offering up complete songs that are truncated in the film. The Christmas Song is an audio only performance. Song Demos features recording by the original artist who contributed compositions to the film. The Music Of Walk Hard is a fairly serious seventeen-minute look at the film’s music. The Making Of Walk Hard is a fifteen-minute, interview based look behind-the-scenes. The Real Dewey Cox is a seventeen-minute mock tribute program with notable musicians. The Last Word With John Hodgman is a nineteen-minute mock Biography type program featuring members of the cast still in character. Tyler Nilson: A Cockumentary is an amusing six-minute program concerning the actor with a very limited wardrobe. Bull On The Loose is a four-minute look at a stunt sequence. Deleted & Extended Scenes, Line-O-Rama (gag reel) and a Cox Sausage Commercial (with outtakes) close out disc two’s supplements.

I really enjoyed WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY and found the Blu-ray release to be really terrific. I you enjoyed WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY; the Blu-ray disc release is the best way to own the movie. Recommended to the film’s fans.



Walk Hard - The Dewey Cox Story [Blu-ray] (2007)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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