In 10 Words or Less
The Duke boys are back and dumber than ever
Loves: Jessica Simpsons' body, Super Troopers
Likes: Johnny Knoxville, Sean William Scott
Dislikes: Pointless remakes of TV shows
Hates: Most things Southern, just plain stupid movies
I will fully admit, the first time I watched The Dukes of Hazzard, I fell asleep before it ended. That's never a good sign when it comes to a movie loaded with action. I can't say I was a fan of the original show, or that I even remember it in anyway, but I certainly didn't come into the movie with negative feelings, except maybe for that attention-whore Jessica Simpson. In fact, I've always enjoyed Johnny Knoxville ("Jackass"), Sean William Scott (American Pie) and Jay Chandrasekhar (Super Troopers). But here...not so much.
I've watched some dumb movies and enjoyed myself (Pooty Tang and Spice World come to mind), and watched some dumb movies that made me curse the fact that my eyeballs work (Crossroads is one of many). The Dukes of Hazzard, which took a dumb idea and made it dumber, won't challenge the worst of the worst, but it's not likely to end up on anyone's list of favorites.
For anyone out of the loop, cousins Bo (Scott) and Luke Duke (Knoxville) run moonshine for their Uncle Jesse (Willie Nelson), all across Georgia's backwoods, using a suped-up orange Charger named The General Lee. Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds), a local politician that could only exist in the south, and his henchman, Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (M.C. Gainey, Sideways), are the only ones standing in their way. The Duke boys are aided by their other cousin Daisy (Simpson), whose prime attribute is her ability to wear very short shorts. Shakespeare, it ain't.
If you look close enough, there's a sliver of plot, as Boss Hogg attempts to use the big Hazzard County Road Rally, which Bo has won four years running, as a cover for one of his evil schemes. Beyond that, there was a lot of driving and Simpson skin, but not much else. Character development is limited to Luke being a sex machine and Bo being obsessed with The General Lee. Odd decisions like casting Lynda Carter to play Pauline, and then giving her nothing to do, or trying to make selective updates to the concept, as seen in an unfortunate scene involving gang-bangers and The General Lee's paint job, point to the film being underdeveloped and under-thought.
Knoxville and Scott are likable enough, but like Carter, have very limiting roles, while Simpson delivers every line with the nuance of an 8th-grade school play. If ever there was a role that required an actress to "sit there and look pretty," this is the one, but instead she combines the worst of Britney Spears and Marilyn Monroe in playing a hillbilly piece of ass. The only main cast member who actually comes out looking good is Nelson, who is just about perfect in the role of Jesse, and I don't know how much of his part was acting.
If you hire Chandrasekhar to work on your movie, you're doing it to tap his considerable sense of humor, not his stunning visual acumen. But here, this film has nothing to compare to his other movies, which were much funnier. How the producers looked at his extremely solid work on "Arrested Development" and Super Troopers and thought he was the guy to direct what is essentially an extended car chase with an extra serving of stupid, is a perfect example of why Hollywood is in so much trouble.
Warner Brothers has released The Dukes of Hazzard in three flavors: Unrated Widescreen and Full-Screen and a Full-Screen PG-13 version. There are additional sets of outtakes and gag reels on the Unrated edition, and a few extra minutes in the movie. Packaged in a standard keepcase, without an insert, the DVD features an animated, anamorphic widescreen main menu, with options to play the film, select scenes, view special features and select languages. The main menu has animated transitions to the other static pages. Language options include English, French and Spanish subtitles and English closed captioning, while the scene-selection menu has still previews and titles for each chapter. There are no audio options.
With a very wide 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, Dukes of Hazzard at least looks good, with solid, bright color that doesn't smear or bleed and a complete lack of dirt or damage. The level of detail is sufficiently high (check out the threads on Boss Hogg's suit), while the image remains crisp throughout, without any obvious pixilation or noise. Some very minor edge enhancement can be spotted at times, but it's not a big concern.
Offering only a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, the film delivers a decent sounding film, but nothing near the action blowout that's represented on-screen. The surrounds kick in to boost the music and sound effects when called on, but the dynamic effects like panning are rare and the sound as a whole doesn't have a knock-you-off-your-chair quality you might expect when seeing muscle cars flying through the air. On the plus side, the dialogue remains clear and the music throughout the film is very strong.
There's no commentary here (it would have been interesting to hear Knoxville and Chandrasekhar's after-thoughts), but three featurettes give a making-of primer. "The Hazards of Duke" is a 15-minute look behind the scenes of the movie's production. The featurette, done with a southern narrator like the series, has a sense of self-deprecating humor to it, which is much appreciated. The most interesting part, at least to me, was Knoxville's thoughts on the film. I'd like to think what he says is true, and not a joke, but that's because I think he's pretty funny.
As expected from a film centered around a car, the bonus features are similarly focused. The five-minute "How to Launch a Muscle Car 175 Feet in 4 Seconds" shows what went into the high-flying stunts in the movie, while "The General Lee Lives" spends the same amount of time profile the iconic vehicle. This was way more interesting than I could have ever expected, thanks to the fantastic gear created to shoot the car scenes.
Helping the disc meet its jiggle quota are a handful of extras centered around the female form, starting with "Daisy Dukes: The Short Short Shorts." At just under five minutes, the featurette, which has more mindless interview footage with Simpson, and a fictionalized retelling of the development of Daisy Duke's jean shorts, is short and sweet. For anyone looking to make a pair of their own, a step-by-step plan is included as well.
Those shorts are showcased in Simpson's video for "These Boots are Made for Walking," her countrified version of the Nancy Sinatra song, re-written to include references to the film. Directed by Brett Ratner (Rush Hour), this full-frame clip takes full-advantage of Simpson's Dukes outfits, including a skimpy pink bikini, and shows she has quite a future as a pole dancer. As a singer though, she should just hand the mic to the next pop tart.
Two sets of additional footage are included, one standard and one unrated. The standard set runs over 25 minutes in length, while the unrated clips are a much shorter four minutes, dominated by bare breasts. Incredibly, those mammaries would have added more to the movie than just about any of the extraneous material in the standard deleted scenes, most of which are just alternative takes.
The blooper reel gets the same treatment as the additional footage, with PG-13 and unrated versions. Some of the bloopers are repeated, but the unrated material is slightly longer (at five minutes) and certainly funnier than the standard edition, especially Nelson's jokes in the car with Knoxville. In this case, unrated is more about swearing than nudity.
The extras wrap up with the film's theatrical trailer, which promises more than the film could deliver.
The Bottom Line
Perhaps the reasons why I find NASCAR to be overwhelmingly dull and the work of the devil, were the reasons why I found this movie to be disappointingly dull. Or perhaps the concept just wasn't good enough to support a full-length movie (does anyone actually remember Moonrunners?) Either way, this flick was a waste of time and way too long at 107 minutes. If you liked the film, the DVD provides a few interesting extras, but if not, it's just more of what you didn't enjoy before. There are much better ways to kill time.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or his convention blog called Conning Fellow
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.