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THE DUKES OF HAZZARD
Unrated

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott, Jessica Simpson, Burt Reynolds, Willie Nelson, Lynda Carter
Director:  Jay Chandrasekhar
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio:  Warner Bros.
Features:  See Review
Length:  107 Minutes
Release Date:  December 6, 2005

"You know what's gonna happen, don't you?  Those two are gonna get themselves in trouble, end up in jail, and I'm gonna have to shake my ass at somebody to get 'em out."

"That's why we love you, honey."

Film *1/2

I was born, raised and still live in the south, so naturally, I have an affinity for all those stereotypical southern caricatures that are always rolling out of Hollywood and onto my movie and TV screen.  Hell, they're enough to make me wanna open a Time Life size set of whup-ass on somebody before I go "bile" my grits.

This year, it's The Dukes of Hazzard filling that bill.  Yep, the Duke boys are back.  Can't say that I missed 'em too much.  Back when it was a hit television show, my mother didn't like me watching it.  She said there were much better things I could be putting in my brain than The Dukes.  I hope I remembered to thank her for it.

But maybe I'm being too harsh.  What did I expect from a remake of a show like The Dukes of Hazzard?  Pretty much what I got:  car chases, redneck humor, dumb cops, moonshine, and Jessica Simpson wearing shorts that were they cut off any higher, they'd be a belt.  I got all that and more.  And less.

I caught a glimpse or two of the original show, and for one thing, I don't remember Bo and Luke Duke being as dumb as they are in this picture.  Here, the Duke boys combined don't seem to have the IQ of a salad crouton.  You know when you put a trio of characters together and Jessica Simpson is playing the smart one, you're in trouble.

There's not much story...Bo (Scott) and Luke (Knoxville) are helping their Uncle Jesse (Nelson) in his moonshine business, frequently aided by the sexy charms of their cousin Daisy (Simpson) and their classic Dodge Charger dubbed the General Lee.  Their nemesis is Boss Hogg (Reynolds), who has a dastardly plan up his white sleeve.  He wants to force the good Hazzard folks off their land so he can start a coal mining operation.  The town's only hope is our beloved redneck cousins.  We in trouble, y'all...

The humor is lowbrow, the car chases are big, loud, and defy Newton's laws left and right, and the plot is like a television episode stretched to the breaking point.  All that keeps it from sinking is the affable charm of the stars.  Knoxville and Scott are both likeable and seem to be having a genuinely good time in the movie.  Probably more than we are.  But they're as far from their television counterparts as the recent cast of The Honeymooners was from theirs.  Neither one can "yee-haa" worth a damn.  And Knoxville is a genuine southern gentleman, too...shame.

And Jessica Simpson...yow.  I can't speak much for her acting because I didn't pay a lot of attention to it, but I can say nobody was better built to inherit Catherine Bach's legendary shorts.  You won't see any more of her in this unrated version, but you'll get your money's worth elsewhere, especially when the Dukes end up in a sorority house in Atlanta. 

Willie Nelson is also a trip, bringing a low-key, constantly joking presence to Uncle Jesse.  And it was a treat to see the eternally lovely Lynda Carter in a small role.  Sadly, the usually reliable Burt Reynolds seemed a bit lost as Boss Hogg.  Maybe a slice of raw liver would have livened him up some.

There was no need for this movie, but every summer delivers its share of films where the mouth is in overdrive and the brain is in neutral.  Hollywood has been in remake hell a little too long now; it's fair to say their idea tank is about a quart low.  The Dukes of Hazzard isn't one of the better offerings, but it ain't the worst either.  I have only one thing to say to anyone thinking "sequel", though...don't come back, now, y'hear?

Video ****

No complaints here...Warner did a fantastic job with this anamorphic transfer; it's spectacular!  There's plenty of scenes where everything is moving fast, and the colors, lines and image detail stay strong and intact throughout.  The many outdoor scenes are beautifully rendered, and I noticed no evidence of grain or compression.

Audio ****

The General Lee is fast and furious, and so is this 5.1 mix.  It'll have you ducking right from the get-go!  The engine roars through the subwoofer, and the action keeps all channels fully employed.  Dialogue is clean and clear (well, except for the southern accents, honey), and dynamic range is plentiful.  Good songs, too, including Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famers Lynyrd Skynyrd!

Features ***

Come sit a spell, 'cause there's a number of good extras on this disc.  The most fun are the blooper reels:  one rated, one unrated.  Check out the unrated version to see Willie Nelson spill the funniest limerick you ever heard!  There are also two sets of deleted scenes, rated and unrated.

There are four featurettes:  one for behind-the-scenes, one for the car stunts, one on the General Lee itself (himself?), and one on the world famous "Daisy Dukes" shorts.  Rounding out is a trailer and a video for Jessica Simpson doing "These Boots Are Made For Walking"...and man, does she look nice in it.

Summary:

The Dukes of Hazzard are dropping in on DVD...too bad nobody told them they weren't invited.  Chalk this up as another middle of the road TV rehash, then step on the gas and get on with your life.

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