|The Dukes of Hazzard
2005 - PG-13 - 106 Mins.
|Director: Jay Chandrasekhar
|Producer: Bill Gerber
|Written By: John O'Brien
|Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott, Jessica Simpson, James Roday and M.C. Gainey
|Review by: Bill King
|Official Site: dukesofhazzard.warnerbros.com/
'The Dukes of Hazzard' is totally unoriginal and completely stupid. Rather than try to breathe new life and add a creative spin to an old television series, the writer simply conjured up an elongated episode, albeit with more adult humor. What's worse is that other than a few details, the story is highly familiar to anyone who has seen a decent amount of movies. The evil politicians want to snag the town and turn it into a strip mine, so it's up to the good old boys to warn the residents and get everyone to oppose the measure.
I prefer my sisters, but you'll do for now.
Bo and Luke were so narrowly defined on the TV series that finding actors who could play them wouldn't be much of a stretch. Just find two guys who can talk and act like hillbillies, and you have your stars. I'm not that familiar with Johnny Knoxville's work, but from what I've read about "Jackass," his appearance doesn't surprise me. Thus far, Seann William Scott hasn't displayed much range in his film choices. He's good at playing the loud-mouthed but likable sidekick (the 'American Pie' movies), so his inclusion here doesn't surprise me either. As Luke and Bo, Knoxville and Scott come across as fun-loving dopes, but their one-note performances can't carry a script already hampered by a tired concept.
The plot is incredibly sparse, to the extent that when the boys visit an Atlanta university to get a soil sample test, director Jay Chandrasekhar tosses in a joke ripped straight from his 'Super Troopers' for no other reason than to put in some filler material. The soil sample results and other clues reveal Boss Hogg's (Burt Reynolds) plan to turn the county into a mine. Bo and Luke head back to Hazzard to warn the townsfolk, but everybody is distracted by a race designed to keep everyone occupied so that the mine ordinance passes without opposition.
Though Jay Chandrasekhar directed, this is not a Broken Lizard film, despite appearances by his cohorts. 'The Dukes of Hazzard' is an improvement over his total failure 'Club Dread,' but only because the source material has some appeal to it. Much of the action centers on the General Lee, the familiar Dodge Charger with the welded doors and capable of dizzying jumps. I liked one scene in Atlanta in which the General Lee made a huge slow-motion jump over a hill and onto the freeway, but car stunts alone can't justify a film's existence (just see some of Burt Reynolds' car chase movies to find out why).
One of the few reasons to see the movie is to find out whether Jessica Simpson, as Daisy Duke, can act. Based on this role, I can't make that assessment, because she's just imitating original star Catherine Bach. She does have the legs to match, but a definite judgment on her acting will have to wait.
The movie thrives on its eccentric personalities to deliver the laughs, and whether it works or not will depend on if you can warm up to these yokels. Everyone in the movie comes off as just plain annoying in the way he or she talks and the way he or she behaves. Though I haven't seen any of the episodes in a while, I seem to remember a more mannered, down-to-earth cast.
Since this version has the Broken Lizard touch, sexual innuendo and slapstick situations are the norm. Some are funny, but more are just juvenile. Luke climbs over a fence and the barbed wire catches his nuts. A hick wears only his underwear in lieu of pants. From that, you can see what kind of filter this script had been run through. Lowbrow humor can be great fun, but only in the hands of capable writers. 'The Dukes of Hazzard' is a celebration of buffoonery, mired in a bland story that is, surprisingly, beneath the source material.