British rock journalist Nick Kent perfectly summed up pop music by nothing how the best rock combines the Byronic and the moronic. That uneasy mix of poetry and poses, swagger and stagger, makes rock and roll ripe for mockery -- and, with Walk Hard arriving on DVD this week, what better time to name a few great comedies that have mocked rock and punctured the pretensions of pop?
1) Walk Hard
Starring John C. Reilly as roots-rocker Dewey Cox, Walk Hard doesn't just stick a foot out to trip up Walk the Line; it also manages to spoof The Beatles, Brian Wilson, Elvis and much more. (Indeed, Walk Hard follows such a carefully-crafted timeline as it travels through pop music history, it almost feels like a second take on the brilliant, underseen Grace of My Heart, another film that spanned decades through musical styles.) With a brilliant supporting cast and Reilly's cement-headed self-centered performance in the lead role, Walk Hard is that rare parody that nonetheless still loves what it mocks.
Best Line: "Wait a minute, son: Dewey Cox has to think about his whole life before he performs. ..."
2) Hard Core Logo
Bruce McDonald's mock rock doc follows a never-was group of has-been Canadian punks on one final, fateful tour that feels less like a series of gigs and more like the upriver journey in Apocalypse Now, as things start bad and get worse. Callum Keith Rennie (Memento, Battlestar Galactica) and Hugh Dillon (Down to the Bone, Assault on Precinct 13) play lifelong friends and bandmates whose petty squabbles get acted out onstage over and over again night after night, gig after gig. (The band isn't half bad, either -- Dillon's a musician-turned-actor who used to front a not-bad combo called The Headstones.) Hard Core Logo isn't a ha-ha parody or a spoof; rather, it's a movie so bleak and brutal that all you can do is laugh.
Best Line: "I killed a goat."
3) Top Secret!
... If you want a spoof, though, Top Secret! puts every Elvis film through the wringer, as pop sensation Nick Rivers (known for singles like "Skeet Surfin'") becomes embroiled in an international plot of espionage, intrigue and gleefully simple sight gags. Brought to you by the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker team behind Airplane!, Top Secret! makes it nearly impossible to watch an Elvis film with a straight face, and Kilmer's surprisingly goofy and game.
Best Line: "Haven't we met before?"
4) Fear of a Black Hat
Written and directed by Rusty Cundieff, Fear of a Black Hat achieves the near-impossible; it manages to make fun of the often excessive and ludicrous (or, rather, Ludacris) world of hip-hop. No, it's not a perfect film, and seems more than a bit uneven -- but as Fear of a Black Hat tells the rise and fall of the controversial rap group N.W.H. (Niggaz With Hats) -- a name whose explanation by the leads alone is worth the price of admission -- an entire genre gets called out on its excesses, failures and phonies.
Best Line: "We anti-violent. Anyone says different, I'll bust a cap in their ass."
5) Still Crazy
Revolving around the too-little too-late reunion of the defunct (fictional)'70s British rock band Strange Fruit, Still Crazy has a powerhouse cast of British actors and comedians -- including Billy Connolly, Stephen Rea, Jimmy Nail, Timothy Spall and Bill Nighy. The comedy and drama mix well -- the screenwriters also gave us The Commitments -- and the movie's never afraid to point fingers at the bloat and excess of '70s rock and roll.
Best Line: "Now would be an excellent time to start. ..."
6) A Mighty Wind
With a sprawling cast and brilliant musical numbers, A Mighty Wind roundly shreds an entire musical movement, as an all-star folk reunion tour exposes the personal fights and professional anxieties of a host of old-school strummers. Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest and Michael McKean may have great chops as The Folksmen, but the plotline about Catharine O'Hara and Eugene Levy's reunited folk legends Mitch and Mickey (loosely based on Ian and Sylvia Tyson) is surprisingly bittersweet. And, yes, the final revelation for Shearer's character is absoulutely brilliant, and too good to spoil here.
Best Line: "This flame, like all flames, represents the light and darkness. It also represents the uncertainty of life and its delicacy. It also represents a penis."
7) This is Spinal Tap
What, you were expecting Airheads?
Best Line: Pretty much the whole script.