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Overall Rating
2.31

Awesome: 6.94%
Worth A Look: 22.22%
Average: 6.94%
Pretty Bad: 22.22%
Total Crap41.67%

4 reviews, 48 user ratings


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Dukes of Hazzard, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"The latest sign of the apocalypse-a decent 'Dukes' film"
4 stars

Although the mere fact of its very existence has been enough to cause many to announce end times for the very idea of American culture, I have to admit that I walked into the screening of “The Dukes of Hazzard” with a mild sense of genuine optimism. This, I hasten to add, was in no way due to a lasting affection for the old TV series (I haven’t seen more than ten seconds of an episode since my age was in the single digits and I intend to keep that streak going for a good long time) or an unquenchable desire to see cars smashing into each other (an art form that reached its peak more than a quarter-century ago in “The Blues Brothers”) or even a yen to see professional dimwit Jessica Simpson displaying her hinder in a pair of ultra-short-shorts (in the rankings of pop-tart cabooses, she doesn’t even come close to the likes of Shakira, whose last music video was pretty much the final word on such things).

No, my interest was piqued by the presence of a couple of people who haven’t been mentioned at all in the publicity juggernaut for the film. One is Joe Don Baker, Mr. Deep-Fried Southern Justice himself and a man whose presence in what is, after all, a Southern-based redneck romp, is akin to Al Pacino’s in a gangster film. The other person, and the more important by far, is the film’s director, Jay Chandrasekhar. You many not know his name but you may have heard of “Super Troopers” and “Club Dread,” two very funny films that he made in conjunction with Broken Lizard, the comedy troupe that he is a member of. My hope of hopes was that he would somehow figure out a way to bring some of the weirdo humor of the Broken Lizard films to this project and if he managed to pull it off, it could transform one of the least promising films in recent memory into a reasonably entertaining comedy. On the other hand, I also prepared for the possibility that any subversion that he might have contributed would be steamrollered out in order to make something that would appeal to the broadest audience possible.

Within a couple of minutes, I had my answer. While on a moonshine run, Luke Duke (Johnny Knoxville) goes off to romance a comely farmer’s daughter while cousin Bo (Seann William Scott) stays outside to keep lookout. To pass the time, he turns on a book-on-tape recording of Al Unser Jr’s biography as read by Laurence Fishburne. Reader, I laughed more at that moment than at the entirety of “Wedding Crashers” and it demonstrated that Chandrasekhar was able to make something more than just another run-of-the-mill TV-to-film adaptation. As a result, “The Dukes of Hazzard,” against all odds, has somehow turned out to be one of the funnier films of the summer and yes, I am as surprised to be writing those words as you no doubt are to be reading them.

The plot . . . but truthfully, is there anyone out there who is even remotely interested in the plot to “The Dukes of Hazzard.” The story is the kind of fill-in-the-blank nonsense that could have been utilized for an episode of the old show and probably was. The richest and most evil man in Hazzard County, Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds) is planning on running the residents out and strip-mining the entire town for coal and only the Dukes, aided by cousin Daisy (Simpson) and wily moonshiner Uncle Jesse (Willie Nelson) can save the day–and yes, saving the day does require an extended third-act car chase. As befitting an extra-long episode, there are a few detours along the way, such as a road race that Hogg has arranged to distract the populace from the mining plans and a trip to Atlanta to investigate both core samples and a couple of co-eds.

Instead of giving audiences a straightforward film version of the show (a possibility that I cannot even begin to contemplate), Chandrasekhar and his writers (although John O’Brien gets the credit, Chandrasekhar and his Broken Lizard cohorts, all of whom make appearances throughout) approach the material in the same what that the various comedians do to the joke at the center of “The Aristocrats”–they simply use it as a framework to go off on strange tangents of their own devising. For the Broken Lizard gang, whose comedic approach plays as a fusion of the clever surrealism of Monty Python and the broad, in-your-face gaggery of an early John Landis film (which I mean in a good way), it proves to be an unusually fertile ground for their brand of humor. Their previous films have been bent explorations of less-than-reputable film genres–“Super Troopers” goofed on police films while “Club Dread”mocked early-80's slasher films–and with a $50 million budget at their disposal, they can afford to mock two such genres–the redneck car-chase film (of which “Smokey and the Bandit” may represent the high point and “Smokey and the Bandit 3" definitely represents the low) and the big-screen adaptation of a crappy old television show that exists for no other reason than the fact that it is a known brand name.

In the former are such sights as Bo trying to impress someone in a bar with “I’ll have a Miller–no, make it a Lowenbrau!” and a chain of events that somehow leads the Dukes, who have just finished destroying an enormous amount of property during an extended car chase, somehow being labeled environmental heroes. As for the latter, the film pokes knowing fun at the conventions of the show–the way that Daisy could convince any male to do her bidding as long as she asked while wearing something low-cut, the way that dopey Deputy Enos would always spill the beans on Hogg’s latest evil plan and the way that someone would just leap to a conclusion for no other reason than to get the story from Point A to Point B.(There is also a particularly inspired method of dealing with the potentially touchy subject of the Confederate flag decal that has long graced the roof of their car, the General Lee.). Then, there are moments that seem stuck in for no other reason that the Lizard guys thought they would be funny–my favorites are a discussion about the efficiency of Chinese dynamite fuses and a revival of one of the funnier bits from “Super Troopers.”

The performances also have a certain giddy inspiration as well. Scott and Knoxville have a nice rapport that keeps things moving even when the film threatens to drag (although there are a few too many “Jackass”-inspired bits from Knoxville for my taste) and the sight of Scott, the idiot savant driver (heavy on the former) literally falling in love with his car is pretty funny. Although she has received the lion’s share of the publicity, Jessica Simpson really isn’t in the film all that much so her relative lack of acting ability or comic timing–anything not related to filling out hip-huggers–doesn’t really hurt things too much. And while I don’t think that Reynolds or Nelson will consider their appearances here as career highlights, both demonstrate their particular brands of charisma that more than make up for anything else. As for the aforementioned Joe Don Baker, he only appears towards the end but scores two of the films biggest laughs–a pot-induced request for a “chocolate hot dog” and an end-credits blooper regarding Simpson that is almost worth the admission price itself.

“The Dukes of Hazzard” isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination and it is probably the least essential good movie that you are likely to see this year. However, you should see it because it contains a lot of big laughs, some nifty soundtrack choices (with the exception of Simpson’s woeful cover of “These Boots Are Made For Walking”) and a lot of infectious good cheer. And beyond the crashing cars, moonshine jokes and incessant screams of “Yee-hah!” there is even a level of intelligence that one probably wouldn’t have expected from a film such as this. In other words, “The Dukes of Hazzard” is a film whose charms can be appreciated by folks in red and blue states in equal measure–that is, if the former can overlook a mechanic being insulted with “You couldn’t fix an election if your brother was governor!”

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12683&reviewer=389
originally posted: 08/05/05 14:05:36
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User Comments

5/23/12 keith miron Not enough Jessica Simpson 2 stars
2/28/07 Beau After seeing this a part of my life had been stolen 4ever. terrible performance by simpson 1 stars
11/23/06 Austin Wertman ONE OF THE WORST MOVIES I HAVE EVER SEEN 1 stars
10/04/06 Abs I just wasted 2hrs of my life only see this movie if you're salivating over jessica 1 stars
8/14/06 Sharon OMFG you guys are all movie retarded!! this was an AWSOME movie!! johnny knoxville=SEXY!!!! 5 stars
7/08/06 Anthony Feor The idiots of movie-making 1 stars
4/22/06 Jack The most lame and stupid thing I've ever seen 1 stars
2/11/06 Nick The best movie ever made 5 stars
2/03/06 JT awesome!! whats evry one complaining about? 5 stars
1/25/06 LP Quagmire Jessica Simpson makes this a must-see. 4 stars
12/12/05 Butterbean This was a fun movie. Much like the TV series. I don't think these people really seen it. 4 stars
12/08/05 Jeff Anderson JUNK! Need I say more. I'd rather have my head dipped in toxic waste than watch this again! 1 stars
10/09/05 Arse Poet Better than I expected, but I was expecting to die of suckfulness half way through. 3 stars
10/07/05 Wisamane The dukes of shit....need i say more? 1 stars
9/16/05 Jonathon Holmes Jessica's smokin hot body can't save this train wreck 2 stars
9/13/05 bbbr sexy jessica simpson 3 stars
9/02/05 Pandora The best acting in the whole movie was by the General Lee. Sad. 1 stars
8/26/05 Pat bishop Only thing in common with the original is the charger.Terrible movie... 1 stars
8/25/05 jimgrigsby awful horrid bad use of a battle flag etc. 1 stars
8/24/05 Lisa Smith Jessica Simpson has a poop stain on her pink bikini bottom, it's true !! 1 stars
8/18/05 Madeira SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: May be Hazzard-ous to your health. 1 stars
8/17/05 ES Its jackass the movie two! Wrapped in a Duke's motif and a confederate flag= stinky garbage 1 stars
8/15/05 KCobain Garbage. Another crappy remake. 1 stars
8/14/05 michaelb14 Pretty much as expected, it had a few laughs, definitely a matinee flick, overall.......... 3 stars
8/13/05 TSEliot Scott's "Stiffler" and Knoxville's "Jackass" are awful casts for the real Bo and Luke. 1 stars
8/13/05 William Vollmer not a great TV show-an even worse movie 1 stars
8/10/05 George W Bush Duhh... I liked it. Mainly because I'm a moron. 1 stars
8/10/05 Steve Michaud Guaranteed to kill more brain cells than a jar of Uncle Jesse's moonshine 1 stars
8/09/05 Chris Dumb empty and pointless and Repulsivly bad acting by Jessica "no talent" Simpson 1 stars
8/09/05 Jerry Uncle Jesse is rolling in his grave. The director needs his butt kicked! 1 stars
8/08/05 Glen Harris That movie rocks i dont care what other people say jessica was hot and the movie was funny 5 stars
8/08/05 yomomma A masterpiece of guargantuan proportions! Or not! 3 stars
8/08/05 negation I give it a sucks rating. 1 stars
8/08/05 Jimmy The movie was OK, but nothing like the original. 3 stars
8/08/05 Steven C Some funny thnig happen 4 stars
8/08/05 Kristina Williams Who expected it to be good? WHO?! 1 stars
8/08/05 MarkJ I am now stupider for having seen this movie. 1 stars
8/07/05 Christian Horrible, who told Jessica Simpson she could act? 1 stars
8/07/05 Scott Ruined the Dukes!! Everyone was out of character. Ended with Uncle Jesse getting high. 1 stars
8/07/05 Halo Utter nonsense. 1 stars
8/06/05 Peter Griffin Are you happy now? I have cancer, thanks to your movie ;) Jessica was cute tho... 1 stars
8/06/05 Roy Smith Harm was done, wheither it was meant or not. Depressing. 2 stars
8/06/05 Littleme Quite simply the worst movie of the year. 1 stars
8/06/05 Greg Ursic STupid, but I laughed nonetheless 2 stars
8/06/05 BoyInTheDesignerBubble Pathetic, sad, worse than the tv show, if possible. 1 stars
8/06/05 saoud sao_11@hotmail.com 4 stars
8/06/05 Jin Its no wonder people aren't going to the theater anymore. 1 stars
8/05/05 kumsal21 dswd 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  05-Aug-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 06-Dec-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  15-Sep-2005




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