Sunday, June 1, 2008
Soundtrack Sunday– "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story"
For my 100th post, which comes almost exactly six months after I launched this blog, I'm focusing on a soundtrack of rather recent vintage.
Released late last year and making barely a dent at the box office, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007) stopped the string of hits from producer Judd Apatow, the guy behind Knocked Up (2007) and Super Bad (2007), among other films.
Why did it flop so miserably? Well, it had a few strikes against it. It was a music-oriented movie, which can be hit or miss with the public. It wasn't that funny, despite a few clever moments. And it was a bit schizophrenic: Sophomoric and scatological one moment, obtuse and filled with sophisticated in-jokes the next. It also couldn't decide whether to make the title character likable or a total buffoon.
I also think it was too narrowly focused in its satire. Most of the jokes were take offs from Ray (2004) or Walk The Line (2005). There were so many other great musical biopics to make fun of. What about La Bamba (1987), The Doors (1991), What's Love Got To Do With It? (1993)? So many opportunities, so much wasted celluloid. Heck, the non-satirical That Thing You Do (1996) had a broader focus.
But that's not the point of today's discussion.
My favorite part of the movie was Cox's Brian Wilson phase when he decides to record the perfect song with a full orchestra, multiple sitarists, bushmen playing diggeroos and a bleating goat. Let's not forget the trampoline, substituting for the sandbox. The song itself was so Wilsonesque that it almost seemed like a Smile outtake.
I found out why when the final credits rolled. The co-writer of the song was none other than Van Dyke Parks, who actually collaborated with Wilson on Smile (and walked away when it was clear to him that Wilson was never going to finish it – at least as a Beach Boy).
Play "Black Sheep" by John C. Reilly
Parks isn't the only musical hotshot on the soundtrack. Not in the slightest. Because the title track – and Cox's signature hit – was written by that paramour of power pop, Marshall Crenshaw, along with Reilly, Apatow and director Jake Kasdan. I'm surprised that the song – or any of the others on the fairly solid soundtrack – didn't at least get a Oscar nomination instead of all those craptacular songs from Enchanted (2007).
Play "Walk Hard" by John C. Reilly
As a bonus, I've tacked on one of my favorite scenes from the movie: Cox conversing with the four "Beatles" and contributing mightily to their eventual break-up. Paul Rudd as John Lennon is a real hoot.