Particularly prevalent at the turn of the new millennium, the comedies of Judd Apatow defined the modern genre and brought the actors Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd and Steve Carell to the forefront of the industry. Films such as Knocked Up, Superbad, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Pineapple Express quickly became cult classics, launching the careers of several actors whilst proving highly popular with audiences worldwide.
Whilst this band of actors quickly became synonymous with cinema’s funniest genre movies, for the relative comedy newcomer John C. Reilly, it wasn’t until the release of the cultural juggernaut Step Brothers in 2008 that he would be recognised as a comedic talent. As such, the release of the Judd Apatow produced Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story went under the radar and was a rare box office flop for a relatively cheap $35 million film.
Despite this, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story remains a gem in Judd Apatow’s crown as a wonderfully bizarre satire of James Mangold’s Walk the Line and the landscape of 1960s music in general. Starring John C. Reilly in the lead role, the film follows the fictional Dewey Cox and his wonderfully mindless rise to overcome adversity and become a musical legend.
Singing and performing on the guitar for real in the leading role, John C. Reilly later told The Rolling Stone: “We took the clichés of movie biopics and just had fun with them”. This included Dewey Cox bumping into several iconic musicians during his rise to prominence, with the production team deliberately miscasting many of these influential musicians for comic effect. Frankie Muniz of Malcolm in the Middle fame depicts a young Buddy Holly, whilst Jack White plays Elvis Presley, and a whole host of comedy royalty take on the four roles of The Beatles.
Finding himself in India at a meditation centre, Dewey Cox comes face-to-face with the influential British band, with Jack Black portraying Paul McCartney, Paul Rudd as John Lennon, Jason Schwartzman as Ringo Starr and Justin Long playing George Harrison. “With meditation, there is no limit to what we can…Imagine,” Rudd exclaims in a bizarre scouse accent before each actor gives their own caricatured performance.
Both Jack Black’s peculiar impression of Paul McCartney and Justin Long’s acutely accurate take on George Harrison stand out as highlights, though the scene takes an even greater turn when Dewey Cox does LCD with the band and is taken on an intoxicating trip to the land of Yellow Submarine. “We’re the trippy cartoon Beatles,” Schwartzman’s Ringo Starr announces as Cox is taken into the iconic animated land, before the cartoon facade quickly breaks down and John C. Reilly’s titular character experiences a bad trip.
Featuring some of the genre’s most celebrated stars, this moment from the Jake Kasdan-directed cult classic features some of the greatest, if most inaccurate cameos in the whole of cinema.