While I never saw Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story at the cinemas after seeing it on Blu-Ray I am quite surprised that it failed to even recoup it's paltry $US35 million production costs at the box office. In fact, it only manage to scrape just over $US20 million around the world (with $US910,000 of that in Australia) which is a real surprise as this is a great movie.
One of the most iconic figures in rock history, Dewey Cox (John C. Reilly) had it all: the women (over 411 served), the friends (Elvis, The Beatles) and the rock 'n' roll lifestyle (a close and personal relationship with every pill and powder known to man). But most of all, he had the music that transformed a dimwitted country boy into the greatest American rock star who never lived.
In case you're unaware this isn't a true story. There was no Dewey Cox in real life. But this is a brilliant send up of almost any musicians career. You know the phases; young superstar, drugs, women, kids, declining popularity. What makes this movie so special though are the music numbers which, if you had never seen the movie, could pass as real songs. They're superbly crafted, and sound quite stunning on this Blu-Ray disc.
Walk Hard is filled with cameo appearances as well. Paul Rudd, Jack Black, Justin Long, Jason Schwartzman as the Beatles, Jonah Hill (as Nate's ghost), The Temptations, Lyle Lovett, Jewell, Ghostface Killah, Jackson Browne, Eddie Vedder, Frankie Muniz, and Jack White all make appearances throughout the film.
Fans of this movie, assuming you have seen it already, will be please to hear that there are two versions of this movie on the disc. The disc defaults to the 96 minute Theatrical version which we found to be the slightly tighter and better paced movie, but if you're up for a few more laughs the "Unbearably Long, Self-Indulgent Director's Cut" runs for 120 minutes - around 24 minutes longer then the theatrical version. Strangely to access this extended version you have to go to the Special Features menu as there is no option directly from the discs boot-up.
Encoded at 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec in the films original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 this disc comes with a very solid transfer. In fact with the movie only hitting cinemas months ago the print used to create this transfer is absolutely pristine with not a spot or blemish evident while the transfer was also free of compression artifacts.
There are certainly plenty of reference quality scenes in this movie, not least of which is the wonderful final concert scenes which have some glorious lighting. Another section of the movie which I absolutely loved not only for the comedy but also the visual style, and which looked brilliant on Blu-Ray, was an animated segment which takes place between 1:06:11 and 1:07:00. If anything it really makes us want some decent animation in High Definition on Blu-Ray.
In terms of issues I felt that some of the scenes were tinted a little too far on the red side, and there were some occasional shots which appeared to lack a little sharpness where there should have been fine details such as hair or clothing. Still, this isn't a bad transfer at all.
Not to be outdone the disc also includes a Spanish Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track which is every bit as impressive as the main English track. Other languages on this disc include English Audio Descriptive Service, Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Russian Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks encoded at 448kbps. Strangely the latter two tracks - Polish and Russian - simply overlay their voiceovers on top of the English tracks which takes a little getting used to. All the music is provided in English no matter the audio track which, given the humour in the lyrics may see non-English speaking people miss quite a bit of this movies charm.
Subtitles are provided in English, English SDH, Spanish, Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Icelandic, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Swedish, and Turkish. Sampling the English track showed it to be accurate to the dialogue on screen with only the occasional phrase shortened - probably to make sure you have time to read it all!
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story has some pretty decent extras, with many being just as, if not funnier, then the feature movie. The big disappointment though is that we are certainly being short changed compared to the American release which has some additional featurettes, almost triple the deleted scenes and, most disappointingly for us, full length versions of the songs in the movie and 13 demo songs. Still there are some extras here worth checking out...
Audio Commentary with Jake Kasdan, Judd Apatow, John C. Reilly and Lew Morton: A rather lively commentary which, as you would expect from such filmmakers is rather humourous. There are plenty of production details, and stories from the set. The good news is that the commentary can be listened to in the Theatrical or Extended versions of the movie.
Full Song Performances (16:58/HD): This is one area where the Australian release of Walk Hard really falls down in terms of extras. While the American release has 16 songs and a runtime of around 44 minutes, we only get 6 songs with a runtime of 17 minutes. Sure, the songs here are the biggest and best in the movie, and it's nice to see them at their full length, but it's disappointing. The songs here are Walk Hard (by Dewey Cox), Guilty As Charged, Dear Mr. President, Starman, (You Make Me So) Hard and Walk Hard (by the All Star Band). I would have loved to see "Let's Duet" (probably one of the funniest songs I've ever seen in a movie!), "Darling" or "Beautiful Ride".
Line-O-Rama (6:22/HD): Basically a series or fluffed lines. Some pretty funny stuff here.
The Music of 'Walk Hard' (16:37/HD): The music is one of the best aspects of this movie, and this featurette focuses on the development of that aspect of the movie.
The Real Dewey Cox (14:05/HD): A pretty funny featurette with a lineup of real musicians singing the praises of Dewey Cox. John Mayer, Lyle Lovatt, Ghostface Killah, Sheryl Crow, and Jewel are some of the stars singing praises while John C. Reilly talks about what it was like playing Dewey Cox.
Review By: Dave Warner