I watched the extended version of this film. That ended up being a terrible idea.
The most pressing issue with this film is time. Time necessary to pace jokes, time necessary to make accurate representations of parody, and time to structure the course of the film’s narrative so that it seems almost credible. Time is such a fickle thing, especially here, as it is the biggest complaint I have of the film.
I need to reiterate that I watched the extended cut of this film (my options were limited), which runs at two hours on the dot. The original cut is 96 minutes, which seems way more refreshing. About an hour into Walk Hard, my mood lingered upon the thought of “God, this movie goes on forever!” Running jokes, the predictable course of history the film seeks to parody, and the goofy acting every actor seemed to put up whenever onscreen just got old. Like a fully-grown John C. Reilly playing the part of a fourteen-year-old boy, the film gets pretty old in a hurry.
Because of this, watching the extended version became an absolute nightmare, as an extra twenty-five minutes of filler hampering the inevitable end of the road made the experience more insufferable. I paused the film and went around doing other stuff just to keep my mind entertained, counting the minutes as each scene played out as Tim Meadows (the worst part of this film) made another joke about Cox “not wanting any part of this shit.” Repetition is a premium part of comedy, but there are limits—of which were surpassed tremendously through the course of 120 minutes.
Aside from time and some general unfunniness with the humor, there really isn’t much to complain about here. With a full-blown satire, it becomes harder to really criticize the larger workings of a film that aims to make fun of a certain criteria. It wonderfully plays with the “cookie-cutter musician biopic” formula, which absolutely gives it some credibility. Some of the humor, particularly early on, was pretty good, and the timing of the jokes came across cleanly in a historical sense, which I noted with glee. I quite liked when Cox sang a song about holding hands at his high school talent show and all the girls in the audience started shedding their shirts and all the old dudes started complaining about how it was different/the devil’s work. I appreciated that.
What makes this structure self-inflicting is that if the humor and the overwhelmingly satirical nature doesn’t work, there’s nothing for the viewer to grab onto. I got tired of it about halfway through, so what was I to expect except more of the same for another hour? Albeit charming initially, the film became a test of endurance, as everything the film had thrown at me from a comedy perspective had gotten stale. I can’t connect with the characters; this is a parody, they’re all dumb. I can’t connect with the story; this is a parody, it’s all dumb. All that’s left is the humor. It wasn’t a hit.
There was one saving grace, however, which came with the surprisingly good musical score. The singing voice sure sounded like Reilly, and if so, he can sing me to sleep anytime he wants. While I’m not generally a Country kind of guy, his voice definitely suits the Southern-styled music he performs on a regular basis throughout the film, and there wasn’t a single track I would voluntarily skip. I’m almost tempted to look up some of the songs on Youtube after the fact.
In terms of parody, this is a masterful work of mockery. It completely encapsulates the formula of the musical biopic and exaggerates it to absolute absurd effect. As a comedy, this is rather hit-or-miss, especially to those who don’t care for a lot of repetition. The beginning is rather charming, with a lot of good jokes that come across a variety of topics. As it continues, it limits itself to a certain plethora of things to pick on, resulting in the continued use of rehashed puns. It could certainly be worse, but man, did I want this to be better. The first hour was entertaining and funny, until it eventually only became entertaining, which gave way to boredom. The extended version is likely the cause of this, though I’m not about to go out and watch the entire film again only with twenty-five fewer minutes of content. That’s enough Cox for me for one day.
Final Score: 5.5/10
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