The Dukes of Hazzard
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Jay Chandrasekhar
scr John O'Brien
with Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott, Jessica Simpson, Burt Reynolds, Willie Nelson, Lynda Carter, MC Gainey, Michael Weston, Kevin Heffernan, Joe Don Baker, James Roday, Michael Roof
release US 5.Aug.05, UK 26.Aug.05
05/US Warners 1h46

Good ol' boys: Knoxville, Simpson and Scott

knoxville scott simpson
reynolds nelson carter

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The Dukes of Hazzard Hollywood studios seem willing to plunder any material at all if they think they can make some money, and it's clearly not too difficult to buy a talented cast and crew if you're willing to pay enough. Because it's obvious that no one became involved with this film for artistic reasons.

Luke and Bo Duke (Knoxville and Scott) are cousins in rural Hazzard County, Georgia, a hotbed of corruption run by local "businessman" Boss Hogg (Reynolds) with the help of the sheriff (Gainey). The Dukes are a thorn in the side of these sleazeballs, running moonshine produced by Uncle Jesse (Nelson), while Duke babe Daisy (Simpson) helps however she can, usually by employing her curvy physique. Hogg's nefarious plot this time involves the annual championship road race and a strip-mining operation that will destroy the town. Send in the Dukes.

The 1970s TV series wasn't exactly highbrow, but it at least had a whiff of intelligence underneath the goofball antics. This film, on the other hand, seems to exist merely as an excuse to smash things up and get in brawls. Basically it's like a rural South edition of Jackass. But not as funny. And with much lazier performances. No one really looks like they're working here, although at least Scott injects energy whenever he's on screen, and his chemistry with Knoxville is somewhat engaging. Heffernan's deranged Sheev is believably nuts and palpably icky. But poor Simpson has nothing to do besides wiggle at the screen and strip down to skimpy shorts and bikinis--no acting required.

I should also admit that the car stunts are fairly spectacular in that overblown, just slightly too-big sort of way. And we can tell just how too-big they are in the credit sequence outtakes, which are easily the funniest thing about the film. And they're not that funny, really. But if you think it's a crime what the filmmakers have done to a cheesy favourite TV series (the Starsky & Hutch movie is a masterwork by comparison), just wait until you hear what Simpson does to These Boots Are Made For Walking.

cert 12 themes, language, innuendo, violence 11.Aug.05

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2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall