Dukes of Hazzard (2005)
WARNING - Hazzard Ahead
I think something bounced up into my undercarriage - Daisy Duke
Cousins Bo and Luke Duke (Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxsville) earn their living, by delivering Moonshine for their Uncle Jesse (Willie Nelson) whilst out running the local Sheriff in their beloved car the General Lee. In between delivering the illegal Liquor, Bo dreams of winning the upcoming local car race, having won it for the last 4 times, whilst Bo enjoys getting his end away with several of the local belles.
But things take a turn for the worse, when previous Hazzard county resident and legendary racing driver Billy Prickett turns up in Hazzard to stop Bo from winning his fifth consecutive race and top of this local mogul Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds) frames the duke family, with the aid of Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane, and evicts them from their farm. It is up to Bo and Luke, with the aid of their cousin, Daisy Duke (Jessica Simpson) to uncover what dark deeds Boss Hogg is up to, whilst returning the family farm back to its rightful owners. On top of this, there is the small matter of the Hazzard county race which Bo is desperate to win.
I always approach films which attempt to remake classic TV series from years gone past with extreme caution, some succeed like "Starsky and Hutch", whilst others fail abysmally like "Lost in Space". With "The Dukes of Hazzard" it finds a middle ground, as a remake of a great TV series it is pretty poor, but as a film which takes the setting and characters of the original series and transports it forward in time it succeeds. Part of the reason for it succeeding is that it actually pokes fun at the original series, especially some of its more non PC elements and does not try to imitate the performances which made the original series so enjoyable.
I will be honest, the storyline to the film is pretty poor, with really only 2 elements running strongly through it. Firstly you have the forthcoming Hazzard county country road race which Bo plans to compete in and win for a fifth time, equalling the record of Billy Pickett, who happens to return to Hazzard to try and stop him from winning. Then you have what should be the main element of the film, and that is the dark deeds which Boss Hogg is putting into place, whilst evicting the local farmers, including the dukes, from their residences in unscrupulous manners. Of course the Dukes have to try and win their farm back whilst stopping Boss Hogg from his clandestine affairs. In reality these two story lines are only there to give the film some meaning, whilst the humour and the action become the prominent features of the film, and it is these which make the film enjoyable.
Of course you cannot forget the distraction of Daisy Duke in some very short shorts which help to distract you from what is basically a no brainer of a storyline. As mentioned the humour is a big part of the film, and although it is not to the extent of modern slap stick which dominates many new comedies, it is still enjoyable as it pokes fun at the original TV series, most notably the out dated confederate flag which is painted on the car. Talking of the car, this is a huge part as to why the film is enjoyable as it is packed with car chases and stunts which would be right at home in a "Smokey and the Bandit" movie. I loved watching the Dodge Charger race through country lanes, sliding round corners and avoiding the ensuing police cars, although this started to get a bit boring by the end of the film.
Where the film differs from the original show, is in the characterisation of the main players. In the original, Bo and Luke were clean handsome guys where as in the film version they are rougher. But this does not distract from the fact that both Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxsville put in admirable performances as the two cousins. Unlike Scott's more outrageous performances in the likes of "American Pie" we get a more subdued performance but still very enjoyable. On the other hand who I have never rated as an actor, puts in a fine performance as Luke and at times steals the scene from under Scott's nose.
Then you have Daisy Duke, played by Jessica Simpson, and I apologize if this offends anyone, but I am sure she was in the film purely as eye candy, as she doesn't really act but struts around in shorts and revealing tops for the majority, not that I am complaining. Also another cast member who doesn't really do much acting is Willie Nelson who basically stands round looking uneasy and reciting a few lines, although a scene later on in the movie where he is telling Luke some funny limericks is highly amusing.
Also appearing in the film is Burt Reynolds as Boss Hogg and although he adds something to the overall enjoyment, not sure what, his acting definitely seemed to be very wooden, maybe his heart wasn't really in it. Also appearing in a minor role, is Wonder Woman herself, Lynda Carter, who plays Pauline. Not really much to say about her performance other than it was adequate and that she doesn't look that much different from her days as Wonder Woman.
Directing "The Dukes of Hazzard" is Jay Chandrasekhar, who other than directing the middle of the road "Club Dread" has learned his craft with TV shows. To be honest he doesn't really do anything wrong with the film, and capitalizes on one of the key elements of the original show, and that is the car chases featuring the General Lee, which he does to maximum effect. I suppose anyone who takes on a remake of a classic TV series takes on the risks associated with it and stands more chance of making a box office flop than hit. In Chandrasekhar's case I think he has done an admirable job, but just lacked the experience to make this better.
What this all boils down to is that although not the most memorable of films, "The Dukes of Hazzard" is entertaining and at 106 minutes in length is not a bad way to spend an afternoon or evening. It may not be an authentic interpretation of the original, but what they have done is to take the significant elements that made it a classic and transported it into a modern setting and in doing so done a reasonable job. Although Scott and Knoxsville put in decent and enjoyable performances, the wooden acting from the rest of the cast does spoil the film slightly. If you enjoyed watching "Charlie's Angels" and "Starsky and Hutch" then you are sure to enjoy this, but don't expect a like for like interpretation of the TV series.
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