Warner Bros. // 2005 // 107 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // July 28th, 2006
Cousins. Outlaws. Thrillbillies.
Hopefully with the abortion of a film called The Dukes of Hazzard Hollywood will stop mining the creative era of '80s source material. Sure, Michael Mann has got the big screen adaptation of Miami Vice in the works, but it's his inspiration. Written by John O'Brien (whose most recent work was the adaptation of Starsky and Hutch) and directed by Jay Chandrasekhar (Club Dread), is The Dukes of Hazzard film as bad as it seems?
Well, the show was simple enough, so let's just see how the movie's plot and characters adhere to the theme song initially made famous by Waylon Jennings:
Just two good ol' boys, never meanin' no harm
Well if I'm a casting agent and I want two southern guys, I look no further than American Pie's Seann William Scott (born in Minnesota) and The Ringer's Johnny Knoxville (born in Tennessee, but the accent sounds nonexistent).
Beats all you never saw been in trouble with the law since the day they was born
It's never really talked about that much, but Bo (Scott) and Luke (Knoxville) avoid the cops while they deliver moonshine for Uncle Jessie (Willie Nelson).
Straighten the curves, flattenin' the hills
Bo drives the General Lee effortlessly yet a little recklessly with Luke in the passenger seat as the obligatory ramp jumps and "yee-haws" follow.
Someday the mountain might get 'em but the law never will
Well sure, Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds, Boogie Nights) is too aloof, his right hand man Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (M.C. Gainey, Sideways) is moronic and Sheriff's Deputy Enos Strate (Michael Weston, Garden State) appears to be a cop who suffers from "premature arrival disorder," so closing cases is the least of their problems.
Makin' their way the only way they know how, that's just a little bit more than the law will allow
Because delivering moonshine and letting their cousin Daisy (Jessica Simpson) do some of their dirty work is verboten, even in Georgia.
Just two good old boys, wouldn't mean if they could
Unless one of those boys is rumored to have slept with a married pop star wife during the production of the film...
Fightin' the system like a two modern day Robin Hood
Because Hogg is almost illegally seizing land as part of a shady business deal he wants no one to know about, so unleash Stifler and the guy who wore a bee-kini to save the day!
I understand that The Dukes of Hazzard will have some underlying layer of stupidity, but after watching the full film, I can honestly say I never cracked a smile. I've seen a little bit of the show but I was never really a fan, but I think I got the basic essence of the show. But I can say without hesitation that after watching The Dukes of Hazzard, I was angry. I was angry at Chandrasekhar, I was angry at O'Brien, but moreover, I was angry at Warner Brothers for green lighting and releasing this. The Dukes of Hazzard was literally the biggest waste of time that has graced my TV screen to date. And think about it, the casting was wrong, yet oddly predictable. You could substitute Scott and Knoxville for any other nameless actors that anyone under 30 has heard of, Nelson and Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman) and Reynolds were cast for their link to the past, and Simpson was cast because of her...talent.
But one can't point the fingers of blame towards the cast (though Reynolds appeared to subconsciously have a frown on his face in every scene, no wait, that was the plastic surgery). The fault clearly lies with the film's creators. The charm and goodwill that the television show had raised after almost a decade was essentially wiped away, to be replaced by who knows what. It seems that more emphasis was placed on the performers and their idiosyncrasies than for the characters that they portray. Was Uncle Jesse really that much of a pot head on the show? Was Bo as clueless as he was portrayed by John Schneider? Before wrapping up, I do want to mention one thing about the film. Apparently, Ben Jones (who played the television version of Cooter) wanted to get some people to boycott the film, because it portrayed Southern men in a bad light. Jones, who has posed nude for a calendar for local fundraising efforts in his small Virginia town (because you need to be subjected to that same kind of disturbing vision like I was), might have been a little off base in his remarks. The characters were barely Southern, so what was there to stereotype? In addition, if one is to urge a boycott of the film, it's best to boycott one that's, you know, good.
The Dukes of Hazzard is one of the movies that HD DVD owners are sick of seeing. The Warner Brothers HD DVD promotional trailer in front of their discs touts this as one of the reasons why people should invest in bigger and better picture presentation. So imagine my surprise when I popped the disc in and saw a picture that was rather...boring. The picture does bring out some detail from time to time, but Scott's facial stubble appears very artificial (almost like Ronco put some of that spray hair on his face), and Simpson's eyes appear offset. Am I crazy on this? As far as the audio goes, the Dolby Digital Plus is an even larger disappointment. I was expecting thunder and power because of a lot of car chase sequences and gunshots and such. Instead I get...some low end subwoofer action whenever Luke shoots a flaming arrow from a bow or maybe when Jesse tosses a Molotov cocktail? What a shame. Aside from the supplements on the standard definition discs, the big highlight is Warner's In Movie Experience, which is a running track over the film where the cast recalls some of the fun things that occurred on set. Chandrasekhar and Scott appear to be watching the film, while Knoxville's session was done (presumably) separately. They talk about fun stuff on set (but not too fun, as it's bleeped for language apparently), and the track is interspersed with on set interviews with Simpson and Nelson, along with some footage of tricky stunts. The IME is okay, but a little bit distracting at times.
The Dukes of Hazzard could have been a little bit better if it had embraced its roots instead of running away from them. Schneider, Catherine Bach, and Tom Wopat coming in would have given the film some gravitas. That and imploding the script.
I know that The Dukes of Hazzard is supposed to have tongue planted firmly in cheek, but come on! I think the reason why cast and crew didn't incorporate any alumni from the show is that they would have all been ashamed to see this, and they're the lucky ones. High definition or not, skip it.
Guilty on all charges. If Warner Brothers keeps committing these crimes (there better not be a Punky Brewster movie in our future), then the court will have to re-examine their crimes at a later date.
Review content copyright © 2006 Ryan Keefer; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 2.40:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 107 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* In Movie Experience with Director Jay Chandrasekhar, Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville
* Two Sets of Deleted Scenes
* Two Sets of Bloopers
* "The Hazards of Dukes: Behind the Scenes"
* "Daisy Dukes: The Short, Short Shorts"
* "The General Lee Lives"
* "How to Launch a Muscle Car 175 Feet in 4 Seconds"
* "Stunt Dummies Hit the Town"
* Music Video
* Official Site
* Original Verdict Review
* Season One Review
* Season Two Review
* Season Four Review
* Television Favorites Review