Retro Review: The Dukes of Hazzard

Well, it looks like every redneck’s dreams have come true. The good ole boys are back.

I can’t begin to understand how the “Dukes of Hazzard” television phenomenon was ever started or how it was created. I just remember it was huge for its day and it is amazing how long it lasted. I mean all my friends had “Dukes of Hazzard” lunchboxes back then.

The rough story of the phenomenon is that two “slick and wide-eyed” moonshine delivery boys named Bo and Luke Duke (Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville) would out run and out smart the local law enforcement with their decked-out Dodge Charger they nicknamed “The General Lee”. The boys were also a pain in the side of corrupt businessman Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds) who was always out-smarted by the fast-drivin’ boys. When the boys got into trouble they were always bailed out by their Uncle Jessie (Willie Nelson), super-mechanic Cooter (David Koechner) and the sexy Daisy Duke (Jessica Simpson).

In a lot of ways “Dukes of Hazzard” the TV series and the film has a lot in common with the “Smokey & the Bandit” films where a man and his slicked out car would out run and out smart some rather clueless and corrupt police. This seems even more evident with the making of the feature film. Actually if there was no Uncle Jessie and Daisy then it probably would have felt even more like a “Bandit” sequel. I was even more reminded of the “Bandit” films with the outtakes at the end of the film.

There are some good honest laughs especially when the “Dukes” leave Hazzard County and venture to Atlanta. I felt that Knoxville, Scott and Nelson were perfectly cast as the Dukes. They seem to be born to play these characters. I also liked a lot of the over the top car chases and stunt sequences. And I have to admit the voice-over and freeze-frame shots did bring back some memories.

Jessica Simpson, in her portrayal as Daisy, has a lot to learn about what is acting and what is parading. For me she came off as more of a peacock than an actress. I actually found newcomer Nikki Griffin who plays Katie Johnson as more refreshing.

Probably my biggest annoyance with the film was the portrayal of Burt Reynolds as Boss Hogg and M.C. Gainey as Rosco. These two guys come off as way to creepy and evil than their television counterparts. If I remember the TV series correctly I remember that the cops and Hogg were funnier than the Dukes. It just didn’t feel right.

The film is from the director responsible for other brainless comedy hits like “Super Troopers” and “Broken Lizard’s Club Dread” and this is evident with a lot of the goofier jokes and especially with the “campus police” and “pot-head” sequences.

I laughed a little and shook my head a lot but I still can’t understand why we needed a feature film on this.

(3 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer

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