Published on June 21st, 2008 | by simeon0
The Dukes of Hazzard
Those good ol’ boys from Hazzard County are back, in the film version of one of the most enduring series from the 70’s.
For those unfamiliar with the series, each week Cousins Bo and Luke Duke used their super charged Dodge Charger, christened “The General Lee”, to avoid corrupt police, city overlord Boss Hogg, and bad guys of the week.
If this sounds very simplistic, it is, yet the show was a huge ratings sensation as were subsequent T.V. reunions after the show completed its run. Thanks to reruns on syndication and the recent DVD sales, a new generation is encountering the Dukes and in many ways, that is who the new film is targeted to.
Starring Johnny Knoxville and Sean William Scott as Luke and Bo Duke, the film follows the basic theme of the series as the two cousins joke with one another as they run Moonshine for their Uncle Jessie (Willie Nelson), and try to stay one step ahead of the Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane (M.C. Gainey),
As the film opens, Bo is concerned about defending his title in the annual road rally and tying the record with his 4th consecutive win. Luke is concerned about staying one step ahead of a shotgun toting father & son duo who aren’t thrilled about his numerous dalliances with the daughter.
It is all fun and games until local overlord Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds), seizes the family farm when he plants a still on the property and drives the Dukes out. Not ones to take it sitting down, Bo, Luke, and Cousin Daisy (Jessica Simpson), set out to discover why Boss Hogg is acquiring through ruthless means all of the land in the outlying areas of Hazzard County.
Bo and Luke are forced to flee Hazzard County and venture to Atlanta in order to gain further insight into Boss Hogg’s plans, which results in some funny fish-out-of-water moments when Bo and Luke have to deal with yuppies, college dorms, and the ‘hood as well as city police and the Boss himself.
Of course in keeping with the show, there will be countless car chases, spectacular jumps, and more than enough T&A thanks to Simpson, but what is surprising is that the film’s humor for the most part works.
Directed by Jay Chandrasekher of the Broken Lizard comedy troupe, the film does have its share of moments that may raise a few eyebrows as drug use, sex, and shots to the groin are present in this film, as is language that is more colorful than anything from the original series.
That being said, it is important to remember, that times have changed greatly since the Dukes first aired and you cannot blame the film makers for attempting to reach out to a broader audience. Such is the running joke of Bo being more concerned with his car than with woman, and his inability to speak with the object of his affections without fainting. This is quite a change from the unflappable character of the television show, yet one that still allows the good natured appeal of the character to remain intact.
The cast works well, especially the chemistry between Knoxville and Scott, as well as the scenery chewing performance of Reynolds who seems to be having the time of his life in the role. Much has been made of Simpson’s part, but it is mostly a limited role that offers her little chance to do much more than serve as eye candy, and does not show if she is capable of doing much more.
Nelson is sadly underused, but when he is on screen he raises the bar as his easygoing charm is a perfect match for Uncle Jessie.
While the film is in no way great cinema, it is at times an enjoyable bit of nostalgia to the days when Friday nights growing up meant dinner in front of the television watching the Dukes.
If car chases and some light comedy are what you are in the mood for, and you do not mind a thin story, you can do a lot worse than the Dukes.
3 stars out of 5