The Dewey Cox Story

Directed by Edward Burns. US. 2006.

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Judd Apatow, the writer-producer, of such successes ‘The 40 Year Old Virgin’ and ‘Knocked Up’ returns with a parodic film based around the recent surge of musical biopics such as the award winning ‘Ray’ and ‘Walk The Line’ from which Walk Hard borrows the title and its main characters predilection for country-rock music. 

After enjoying such unprecedented commercial success and positive critical responses it seems odd that Apatow would want to make a film that is little more than just a really shakily drawn character in an over-extended sketch. This may be reminiscent of the Will Ferrell characters Ron Burgundy and Ricky Bobby but in those films you had the driving force of inspirational comedy that Ferrell excels in, whereas here you have John C Reilly in the lead role of Dewey Cox the genius guitar playing boy who is haunted by the memory of killing his brother with a machete when just four years old. Reilly has been around for a while and although he was a supporting play in ‘Talladegga Nights’ with Ferrell it is asking a lot for a supporting player to promote himself to the lead role of such an anticipated film. 

The film has the feel of a lot of weak sketches threaded together by the timeline of age and the passing of time.  There are a lot of references going on at the same time shifting from Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, The Beatles, Brian Wilson, The Partridge Family and at times Reilly’s unfamiliar face excels because his face is great for make-up and character definition, whereas a lot of the jokes fall on death ears and with a lot of American films the need for immediacy gives way to repetition of the same jokes - Dewey ripping out the umpteenth sink in anger, Dewey succumbing to drugs by his black drummer and his surname is Cox, say it out loud -  it’s funny. 

The feeling of a bad sketch drawn out to much is reminiscent of poor Saturday Night Live sketches and through no fault of their own Apatow has raided the SNL cast and crew taking on Kristin Wiig, Chris Parnell and Tim Meadows; all generic characterisations of the first unloving wife, the best ‘confused’ friend and the stereotypical drug-addicted black drummer. 

Jenna Fischer (‘The Office’) plays Darlene Madison, Dewey’s second wife, and they have a great song called ‘Duet’ which connotes the sexual tension between the two full of double entendres (‘In my dreams, you’re blowing me/some kisses. That’s one of my favourite things to do’). Fischer in spite of be on screen more than the first wife, still does not have enough screen time to create a connection of chemistry between Dewey and Darlene - unlike say the Cash and Carter partnership in ‘Walk The Line’. 

It will make you laugh, but sometimes make you crinch and the scattershot of references may leave you thinking who are they trying to mock. A good attempt but not a great story buy a long way. 

Jamie Garwood
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