The Dukes Of Hazzard

Whatever happened to the Good Ole Boys? Utter remake tosh.

Released in 2005, certified UK-12A. Reviewed on 29 Aug 2005 by Craig Eastman
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My campaign to have the year 2005 sewn up in a sack and thrown in the river starts here. It's been a year of mainstream underachievement to say the least, with even the likes of Spielberg missing the mark completely. Despite the best rebuttals offered by a besieged press the shitty teen horror invasion has continued apace, paralleled by the seemingly endless onslaught of utterly unnecessary TV remakes, the latest and most redundant of which we find ourselves dissecting here. As a sprightly young nipper I spent many a fine Saturday evening with my folks in front of The Dukes Of Hazzard, yee-hawing with every ludicrously impractical skyward trajectory of the General Lee and it's occupants Bo and Luke Duke. Those crazy Good Ole Boys, cousins closer than brothers, spent 45 minutes each week doing essentially the same damn thing; haring around the deep south on hooch runs for their uncle Jesse, dodging local law enforcement and ultimately finding an excuse to jump their car off a ramp, through the loft of a barn and out the other side while numerous police cruisers fell short of the mark, ending up smashed and buried in hay.

Yes it was pointless, but it was also tremendously entertaining, not least of all because of Bo and Luke's cousin Daisy, a local barmaid who made an icon out of ridiculously tight denim hot pants. It's fair to say that for the most part the formula has remained intact for the big screen outing, although obviously updates have been made here and there in order to appease the majority of the audience who, at the screening we attended, were clearly at least a decade too young to know even the first thing about the Dukes' original exploits. The plot here pivots on the ever-reliable Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds) and his insatiable appetite for developing tracts of Georgia land. This time the dastardly devil is looking to dupe Jesse (Willie Nelson) out of his farm land with an eye to strip-mining hidden coal reserves in Hazzard that will net him a fortune.

Obviously Bo (Seann William Scott) and Luke (Johnny Knoxville) aren't about to let that happen, but with paid-off local Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (M.C. Gainey) determined to bust their collective ass and put the General Lee out of commission for good it aint gonna be easy. Throw in local race driving legend Billy Prickett (James Roday) who has returned to Hazzard intent on stopping Bo from beating his record four wins at the local annual rally event and you would imagine the scene were set for, if nothing else, a rollicking good 90 minutes of mindless fun and car chases. Hell, with a stunning Jessica Simpson as Daisy (and I do mean stunning) what in the name of the Confederate Lord could possibly go wrong? You might want to hold onto that question in case you bump into director Jay Chandrasekhar in the street.

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Not everybody enjoyed 2001's Super Troopers, but I personally thought Chandrasekhar did a bloody fine job of it. Club Dread, on the other hand, was an irredeemably dick attempt at blending the humour of the director's first film with the slasher horror genre, resulting in a stupendously misfired sophomore effort. Everyone's allowed a blip mind you, only now with The Dukes Of Hazzard Chandrasekhar seems doomed to become a one-hit wonder. Showcasing a unique blend of uninspiring ineptitude and complete lack of understanding for how excitement generally comes about, poor old Jay has made a right pig's ear of things. It's one thing for a movie not to have much body so long as you drape it in the right clothes, but when your director seems incapable of generating even the most fractional quantities of adrenaline from a plethora of all-singing, all-dancing car chases and a very, very, very pretty lady in stupendously tight shorts you clearly have big problems.

While William Scott may have a tight grip on the wheel of the General Lee, the same cannot be said of Chandrasekhar and his movie. The action is slack, the humour frequently more coarse than you might expect for a film supposedly made safe for kids, and not one of the cast is operating on anything like form. Perhaps most inexplicable is the failure of Knoxville and William Scott to generate anything even vaguely near the requisite amount of chemistry. Individually they have proven track records, even if Knoxville's is considerably shorter, but Seann has in particular displayed an impeccable ability to play off others in the past. Check out Welcome To The Jungle where he riffs off The Rock for Pete's sake. With Hazzard however neither seems up to lighting the blue touch paper, and it doesn't feel like their director is giving them much prompting either. Reynolds for one should have been a complete hoot as Boss Hogg but instead he sleepwalks through the picture en route to his pay cheque, presumably in need of some more spare cash to spend on his alarmingly apparent cosmetics.

As for Simpson...oh, God bless that woman. Of course we're talking about the girl who told the US Minister for the Interior they'd done a lovely job decorating the White House, but you really can't help but fall for her bubbly charms. It's just a shame that her "charms" are the only thing anyone on either side of the screen are interested in. The poor thing is even given the line "You know what's gonna happen. They're gonna get caught and get thrown in jail. Then I'm gonna have to shake my ass at somebody to get them out", to which Uncle Jesse replies "that's why we love ya, honey." Evidence, if it were needed, of just how institutionally retarded a script we're dealing with. I guess the odd 12 year-old will get a hell of a lot more enjoyment out of Daisy's ass alone than I did from the film as a whole, but it's enough to make you wonder what the hell Wonder Woman Lynda Carter, surely the feminist to end them all, is doing in a shallow piece of tosh like this.

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With the jokes wearing to such a thin standard that Chandrasekhar attempts to cut and paste in sequences from Super Troopers in order to survive you'd hope the action would be up to something a bit more special. Pre-release press has been rabitting for months now about just how amazing the car chase sequences in this movie were going to be. In fairness, with a franchise like The Dukes Of Hazzard and given the success of fare such as Starsky And Hutch, there was little reason to doubt them. As Jay of Jay And Silent Bob fame might put it, booooooonnnnnnngggg. The car antics are as dull and boring as the rest of the movie, with the director seemingly content to launch the General Lee in the air every 20 minutes (though not through the roof of a barn) in the expectation of this placating an increasingly restless audience by now awakening to the notion that this picture is going nowhere and fast.

In summation (for I am already bored enough writing about this yack to wish I hadn't started), Hazzard is the proverbial tits on a boar. Until the idea was first mentioned nobody wanted it, clearly nobody involved was that interested in it, and as an audience I'd be surprised if you, dear reader, should gain any enjoyment from it whatsoever. I am, by my own admission, shallow enough to almost have marked this up purely for the heavenly appearance of Simpson, but the realisation that I'm no longer a teenager has made me see enough sense to do you a favour and be a little more honest. Without a shadow of a doubt this is 1 star material all the way, unless of course you are that aforementioned teenager, in which case you owe it to your parents to give that fiver back, or at least spend it on something healthier. Like a packet of cigarettes.

I award this movie 1 out of 5 Units We Use

Jay Chandrasekhar
Cast list:
Seann William Scott (Bo Duke)
Johnny Knoxille (Luke Duke)
Jessica Simpson (Daisy Duke)