Published on August 8th, 2005 | by Erich Becker0
Review: The Dukes of Hazzard
The Dukes of Hazzard, a film version of the hit TV show, is what I like to call a completely harmless movie, or in Hitchhiker terms: mostly harmless. The film simply exists, for what reason is the question you ask yourself when exiting the theater. There just isn’t anything special to it besides a hilarious spoof involving a few campus police officers, and when your biggest draw is a Hemi-powered Charger and Jessica Simpson’s body, it’s a wonder why you just don’t pull out a car magazine.
Everything you would expect to be in a Dukes movie is here, Boss Hogg looking to make lots of money, Bo (Seann William Scott) and Luke (Johnny Knoxville) screaming “Yeee-haw” while tearing apart a classic 1969 orange Charger (aka The General Lee). In fact, you’ll find the most satisfaction when the General is being put to the test by the Dukes power sliding through a roundabout or jumping gullies. Everything else is just sort of anti-climatic.
The plot, or what passes for one, is just an excuse to put Bo and Luke into a series of situations with comedic outcomes. You can tell the screenwriters thought up the jokes they’d like to tell, then wrote around them. This isn’t to say the jokes don’t work, because they do, and some very, very well.
The highlight of the film is the General Lee being pulled over by two campus police officers in a golf cart. Those who have seen Super Troopers could see this coming a mile away, but it was still funny. While there was a better way they could have done it, what we got still put a smile in my face and a tear in my eye from laughing. The rest of the jokes are hit and miss, which seems odd with the heightened screen presence of Scott and Knoxville who have both managed to make us laugh over the years. I guess even funny actors can’t pull sub-par writing out of the toilet.
Jay Chandrasekhar’s direction isn’t to blame for the film, as rumors persist that he couldn’t construct the movie he wanted to, and we know Broken Lizard can make a funny film (if we’re willing to forget Club Dread). Still, what we get is a fundamentally generic film cinematically that only shows signs of glory when it pulls bits form the TV show (freeze-frame, narration).
Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville do an adequate job playing the numb-skull cousins Bo and Luke with their asset rich cousin Daisy (Jessica Simpson) who spends the entire film in short shorts and low-cut tops (no complaint here). Willie Nelson as Uncle Jessie is an inspired choice, but he doesn’t have a whole lot to do here, ditto to Pauline (Lynda Carter) who has all but three lines in the entire film. Burt Reynolds as Boss Hogg also delivers a great performance and makes a full white suit look good (in a purely hetero-kind-of-way).
What it all comes down to is the end credits are the best part of the film, bar-none. The blooper reel that shows various incarnations of the General Lee biting the big one and the actors blowing their lines provides the most laughs. The “who-cares” plot doesn’t provide the drive to really watch the film for anything else than Jessica’s ass and a hot orange car. If the powers that be at Warner Bros. decide to go for a sequel, they might want to invest in a screenwriter, or give us two hours of car-flying-fun. The Dukes of Hazzard may not be hazardous to your health, but you sure won’t feel good stepping out of the theater.