Watch just a few musical biopics from recent years and you'll see that they all have the same basic narrative — a troubled childhood, initial success, a facing of demons, and eventually (usually, but not always) an overcoming of the demons and acceptance of who the person is. It's a pretty tried and true formula, and one that easily earned Oscars for Ray and Walk The Line. In fact, the formula seems at times so generic that spoofing it should be incredibly easy.
Enter Judd Apatow and last year's Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Directed by Jake Kasdan (Freaks and Geeks) and written by Kasdan and Apatow, the film stars John C. Reilly. Reilly is the titular Dewey Cox, a boy from the south who grew up in the '30s and '40s and went on to music super-stardom only to see his life crumble due to his drug use and inability to get over killing his brother with a machete when he was eight.
Presumably it is this sort of moment in the film that is supposed to be where the humor is found. The macheteing of Nate, Dewey's older brother and the "good" son, is the sort of over-the-top, played for laughs moment that the film uses to differentiate itself from a true biopic. The basic problem with the notion is that as viewers have already seen an escalation in the heights musicians rose to and depths to which they fell in biopics through the years that very little that appears in Walk Hard seems overreaching. Yes, the unfortunately cut in half Nate probably would be unable to speak to Dewey after his macheteing, but that's about it.
From there everything that happens to Dewey follows an incredibly predictable path, with very few deviations. The jokes seem very - for lack of a better term - skit-based. As the story doesn't deviate from a well-worn path from scene to scene, virtually all the jokes are attempts to make a scene slightly more over-the-top than it would be in a true biopic — Cox doesn't just have a pet monkey, he has a pet giraffe too — but, while a joke, that's not actually funny. It's all too likely that a celebrity, and not just a Michael Jackson type, would buy a giraffe as a pet. The movie also has a running gag or two throughout, but the main one, with Tim Meadows' band member character, Sam, encouraging Dewey to not do drugs, falls very flat. It ends up like a bad Saturday Night Live skit where the actors repeat the same lines over and over hoping to, eventually, get a laugh, even if it's only from the awkwardness of trying to tell the joke again.