John C. Reilly stars as Dewey Cox, a Johnny Cash-like buffoon in this Judd Apatow-produced comedy spoofing such musical biopics like "Great Balls of Fire" (1989), "The Buddy Holly Story" (1978), as well as "Walk the Line" (2005).
We got a taste of Reilly's singing abilities via his Oscar-nomination for "Chicago" (2002). His talents were furthered in Robert Altman's "A Prairie Home Companion" (2006). The songs he performed in both those films were all well produced and well written, all fun tunes. Yet, all the ditties in this comedy are hands-down the funniest I've heard in a while, certainly in all of 2007.
Now, if you haven't realized by the title of this parody, there are a lot of jokes involving the male anatomy. As a matter of fact, that particular male organ gets put on proud display. In the DVD commentaries, the director, who includes a 20-minute, extended version of the theatrical release, said showing the penis was the whole point of making this movie.
A bevy of "Saturday Night Live" actors make cameos, which only reinforce the fact that this film feels like a series of sketches. From Dewey Cox's humble and haunting beginnings to his marriage and birth of his child at age 15, it all seems like a themed-evening on a NBC Saturday.
Typical Judd Apatow alums appear as well, including Jonah Hill who plays Dewey Cox's brother Nate, who in the film sounds and acts like the Jedi-ghost of Cartman from "South Park." Reilly even pays homage to Will Ferrell, his former "Talladega Nights" co-star, by running around in only his underwear.
Johnny Cash isn't the only musician mocked. Rocker Jack White from The White Stripes and The Raconteurs guest stars as Elvis. There's also a hilarious send-up of the Beatles in which comedic singer Jack Black and Paul Rudd play Paul McCartney and John Lennon respectively. It's a send-up that descends into an animated bad LSD trip. Reilly even tries his hand at mimicking Bob Dylan.
Various music styles from folk to punk rock to even rap are ridiculed. Of course, the lyrics to go along with them are brimming with all kinds of double entendres and sexual innuendo. Plenty of visual puns accompany. It did make me laugh.
Four Stars out of Five
Rated R for graphic nudity, drug use and language
Running Time: 1 hr. and 36 mins.