The Duke boys are back and dumber than ever
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.
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.
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