Through no fault of his own John C. Reilly is not the most beautiful man on the planet, but he’s unquestionably funny here as well as in a number of other roles that he’s inhabited over his career. But in his semi-inept acting talents one might find the black hole into which the tenderness that scenes with the always glowing Jenna Fischer disappeared. The interactions between the two, understood as romantic, suffer horrendously from Reilly’s willfully lackluster skills as an actor. Much in the same way that Will Ferrell doesn’t possess the skills as an adept actor so much as a comedian, Reilly struggles through this performance with only slight hints at his ability.
Beginning with the scene where Dewey Cox (Reilly) is visited back stage at a high school talent show as a 14 year old by his mother, the audience is immediately in on the joke as the actor inhabits the character from this point through his years as a 70 some odd year old man. In the film’s admitted flaws, the audience is expected to embrace the ridiculous performance as a portion of the over all lampooning of the music biopic sub-genre. There is present everything from Elvis to Ray Charles and Johnny Cash, each contributing liberally to the formation of the title character.
And while the point may or may not be aptly displayed, resolving life’s foibles through the songs in this film work better, perhaps, than the film itself. Reilly, who apparently performed his own music bits, does bring a refreshing multi-disciplined talent to the screen. It’s more than tiresome to watch actors portray some icon of music while only half-assing guitar strumming or keyboard playing for close to two hours. Unfortunately, this is one of the better aspects to the film.
The entirety of this effort isn’t a loss, there are unquestionably moments that are entertaining. Cox’s repeated act of destroying his bathroom seems endlessly rewarding. And much in the same way that the film seeks incorporate the lives of folks who have already had their big screen moment, the inclusion of a Brian Wilson section to the film makes the ‘60s all the more amusing.
On the DVD release of the film, though, there’s an unedited version of the film that includes a third marriage that Cox runs through – and while it does yield a few good scenes, there’s nothing about Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story that needs to be two hours long.