Walk Hard is a parody of the life of Johnny Cash, famously brought to the screen a few years ago in the James Mangold film Walk The Line. John C. Riley plays Dewey Cox, a country boy who accidentally kills his piano phenom brother, by cutting him in half with a machete. From then on, he makes a pledge to be as good a musician as his brother, and win back the love of his father, who continuously reminds him that "the wrong kid died". The story follows Cox from his first appearances in a band, through his initial success, his drug years, the destruction of his marriage, and his comeback. All of it is told with trademark Apatow "one step to far" humor, and Riley plays Cox completely balls to the wall.
Walk Hard is funny, like pretty much everything that Apatow has his hands in, but, it reminds me a lot of Knocked Up. It's the kind of film that you watch once, and think - "Well, that was funny", and then you don't really ever think about watching it again. Cox's whole life is thrown at you in an hour and a half, and, by the time it's all over, you feel tired and satisfied, but not wanting for more. With other Apatow-related films, Superbad, Talladega Nights, and The 40 Year Old Virgin, I was always ready to watch it again. Walk Hard, though, left me uninterested in a second viewing.
Tim Meadows, of Saturday Night Live fame, plays an amazing supporting role in the film as the member of the band who always seems to be getting Dewey into whatever his next vice is. They go through a couple of drugs, and every time Meadows, as Sam, is caught doing the drugs by Cox, he tells Cox - "You don't want to get involved in this shit", and then goes on to list all of the reasons he shouldn't do the drugs that Sam is doing. Oddly enough, all of the reasons Dewey shouldn't do them always end up coming off as reasons Dewey SHOULD take drugs. For some reason, this gag never ceases to be funny.
Riley inhabits the role of Cox like a second skin. By the time the film is halfway through, you don't even question Riley as an actor playing a role anymore. You just, automatically, see him as Dewey Cox. Like Will Ferrel in Talladega Nights, Riley plays Cox as close to a talented moron as he possibly can. Jenna Fischer, of The Office fame, also does an incredible job as Darlene, the June Carter character in this Cash take off.
But, here's the question - With all of the great performances, all of the hilarious jokes, is Walk Hard worth seeing in the theater? I can't answer that question, because I prefer seeing everything in the theater, as opposed to watching it on a TV screen. But, if I was more fickle about my theater going, honestly, I would probably wait for DVD on this one. It is funny, but it's not a Superbad, or a 40 Year Old Virgin.