A fast car, Southern
hospitality, a purty girl, and enough redneck references to make Jeff
Foxworthy seem like a subtle sophisticate.
That's what you're in for in The Dukes of Hazzard, but if you
are at all familiar with the TV show from many years ago (with Tom Wopat
and Rob Schneider...or was it John Schneider? Oh, whatever).
Running for 1979-1985, the television program was something that
everyone who is currently in their 30's had to watch. It was
mandatory. No one knows why.
There were two reunion shows, although the second one done in the
90's was apparently unspeakably bad. The Masked Reviewer doesn't
know first hand because...well...it's hard to imagine it wouldn't be.
The film stars Johnny Knoxville and Sean William Scott as the two
Duke cousins, one is Bo and the other is Luke. Does any know or
care which is which? Did they have well-defined characteristics on
the TV show? The Masked Reviewer never understood why there were
two of them in the first place. They almost always rode around
together. Maybe one yelled YEE-HAW while the other was driving?
Also appearing in the film are Willie Nelson as Uncle Jesse and Burt
Reynolds as Boss Hogg. Now, the people who are keen to see this
film will probably fall into two categories: those who loved the TV
show, and those who love one or more of the actors and think it's
interesting casting. Willie Nelson as Uncle Jesse seems like it's
got to be worth seeing, right? The short answer is no. The
long answer is hell no.
The two leads (Johnny Knoxville and Sean William Scott Thomas) are
both charismatic. However, they definitely did "their own thing"
with the characters. If one had to guess why anyone liked the
original TV show, it might be that the characters were likeable good-ol'-boys
that never meant you no harm. The movie seems to be sort of
a "new look" but has absolutely none of the feel of the original, other
than the same character names and, of course, the car.
Johnny Knoxville's Luke (or Bo) and Sean William Scott Anthony
Michael's Bo (or Luke, whatever) have clearly defined character traits.
One is a womanizer, the other is creepily obsessed with his car.
They both put on thick accents that reek of redneck rather than Southern
charm. The trouble is that it's hard to tell whether they're doing
a parody of the original show by making fun of everything that -- while
not everyone's cup of tea, to be sure -- was lovingly done in the
original. Also, if this were a parody, one might expect it to be
The other performances in the film were unremarkable. Except,
of course, for Jessica Simpson -- this is her finest theatrical
performance. For her. Isn't she from the south? How
could her accent sound so fake if she's from the south? Anyway,
none of that matters. She's mercifully not given many lines.
Basically, she shows off her body four or five times as a plot device,
and her body looks good. Burt Reynolds is barely used and adds
absolutely nothing. Other support characters (like Enus and Roscoe
P. Coltrane) were totally pointless. Roscoe, for example, was
nothing like his TV counterpart -- here he's mean and threatening, not
goofy and incompetent. Willie Nelson is completely wasted.
The writers apparently realized that they suck and rather than try to
come up with bad dialogue for Willie, just had him telling old jokes.
One after the other. That's his character. "Hey, Uncle
Jesse, we're going to lose the farm!" says Bo (or Luke), and Uncle Jesse
responds "Why did the chicken cross the road?" While these aren't
actual quotes, that's the feel.
The humor falls flatter than Catherine Bach's back. Some people
in the theater liked it and laughed, but to put things in perspective,
some people couldn't stop from yelling YEE-HAW at the top of their lungs
every time they saw the General Lee (that's the orange car).
The car is faithfully recreated, right down to the confederate flag
on the top. They did work the controversy surrounding the
confederate flag into the script, so that's good. The engine
sounds good. It jumps a few times (quite impressively, too).
And if you love power slides, you'll get your fill in this film.
Oh, wait...they added a new character, some guy who lives in the
woods and blows stuff up -- he wears armadillo helmets to keep out the
space aliens. That's the writer putting his own touch on things.
The director, Jay Chandrasekhar, also brought the world Super
Troopers and Club Dread. The latter film is also known
as Broken Lizard's Club Dread. Apparently "Broken Lizard"
is a name he writes under. So, if you were a big fan of what
Broken Lizard did on Super Troopers, you'd know that he also did Club
Dread so you could rush out and see it. It would have been a
huge service to the community to re-title this film Broken Lizard's
Dukes of Hazzard, with the tag line "from the director of Super
Troopers and Club Dread." That would have been good
info to have, and the Masked Reviewer's readers deserve to know that.
There are only a few things positive to say about the movie, and here
they are: there's a nice selection of songs on the soundtrack.
Jessica Simpson looks good in a bathing suit. The car does a
couple of big jumps. The outtakes at the end are funny.
In fact, the outtakes are by far the best thing in the film. It
wouldn't be a stretch to say they're the only good thing in the film.
But, don't let that fool you -- it's not worth sitting through this
thing to get to the outtakes. The best way to see this film is to
stop in right at the end, watch the credits, and leave. Such a
waste. Johnny Knoxville and Sean Willam Scott Michael Clarke are
both fun and engaging, but it goes to show you what horrible writing and
sucky direction can do. Everyone in this film could've done better
-- even Jessica Simpson. It's just plain stupid, but not
entertaining stupid. Some nudity would have helped a lot, but they
didn't "go there". A few testicle injuries would have helped too.
One character said it best -- "Let me know if you're going to puke."
The same warning should have been issued to the audience.
Expectation from the Title: When former KKK leader turned
politician David Dukke decides to leave government, pack up his family,
and dedicate himself to handling toxic materials at industrial
areas with environmental disasters, everyone learns a life lesson they
won't soon forget.
Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):
There were many catchy tunes on the sound track.
The Pros: A few nice car jumps, Jessica Simpson looks good,
funny outtakes, Johnny Knoxville and Sean William Scott Phillip Michael
Thomas are charismatic, but...
The Cons: Talent (and Jessica Simpson) are totally wasted.
Horrible, unfunny writing. Has none of the (limited) appeal of
the original series. NO CAMEOS BY THE ORIGINAL CAST -- at least
someone had good sense. Not even Coy or Vance Duke showed up for
Sean Scott Thomas, Willy Nelson, Dukes of
Hazard, General Grant, Stiffler, cameos.sucked