A couple of quickies.
Steven Spielberg can perhaps get away with this sort of sentimentality a little better than most directors. There’s no doubt that this is a charming film, though I do wonder if it crosses a line over to saccharine once or twice. I don’t know…I want to be kind to it, because it’s so likeable.
My wife described it as a kind of fairy tale for children–even the battlefield sequences are free from the sort of brutal realism and gore Spielberg employed in Saving Private Ryan, so it’s not necessarily over-the-top scary at any point. Hell–this film is a lot less terrifying than pretty much anything in the realm of the Brothers Grimm.
It does sort of dig down into the insane randomness and absurdity of war (as well as the casual cruelty that’s almost required in order to make sense of it), and perhaps this film was in part meant to be a meditation on that. But ultimately, it’s just a cute little yarn about a boy and his horse that will choke you up without maybe blowing your mind. Of Spielberg’s two films released at the end of 2011, I preferred The Adventures of Tintin. But War Horse was a good film.
This is ostensibly a parody of the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, but really, it’s just a satire of biopics in general and a whirlwind tour of musical evolution from the 50s through the 70s. It is also–easily–one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a long while.
The proof of a good comedy is that a day later, I’m still recalling jokes from it and laughing out loud. Not because they were simply absurd, but also because they were genuinely fresh and flowed naturally from the script, as opposed to the sort of ad libbed nonsequiturs that usually fill other Judd Apatow films. That’s not a slam against Judd Apatow–I usually like his films quite a bit.
But to be sure, I think the reason this film just plain works is because of John C. Reilly, who apart from being hilarious is also a damn fine singer. I wonder if it says something about me that I’d actually rather listen to the soundtrack to Walk Hard than the soundtrack to Walk the Line. My wife is with me on this, as well.
Honestly, this is a much better biopic, even, than Walk the Line (albeit, a totally fictitious one). Walk Hard should be much more famous than it is.