Director: Jay Chandrasekhar
Cast: Johnny Knoxville, Sean William Scott, Jessica Simpson, Burt Reynolds, Lynda Carter and Willie Nelson
Runtime: 106 minutes
CARA Rating: PG-13 for Sexual content, crude and drug-related humor, language and comic action violence
The Dukes of Hazzard, the latest remake to come barreling out of Hollywood in search of precious revenue, is a classic example of what you see is what you get.
Brought to us by Broken Lizard, the makers of the admittedly funny Super Troopers and the stupendous masterpiece that is Club Dread – no sarcasm there -, it’s loud, it’s dumb, it’s silly and “Yeehaw” is said more than a few times. Actually, it is a bit more like “Yeeeeeehaaaaawwww… we don’t have a real script, but who cares about that anyways?”
What plot there is basically centers around the Duke family and the way they constantly avoid the authorities, especially Burt Reynolds as Boss Hogg, and have a good time. The acting ranges from mediocre to, well, less than mediocre.
Sean William Scott as Bo Duke basically plays Stifler from the American Pie trilogy again. At least he is acting (or so we hope), though, as Johnny Knoxville plays – drum roll please – Johnny Knoxville. Well, not literally but nobody will know the difference. That’s not to say the script gives the actors much to work with, but it does seem they had more fun making the movie than any of the audience does when watching it.
Of course, Jessica Simpson as Daisy Duke cannot be forgotten. In 2002, a little film called Crossroads came out and showed the world that then pop sensation Britney Spears could act worse than Madonna. Now, the torch is passed on yet again as Jessica Simpson manages to bring bad acting to a whole new level. Unlike Knoxville and William Scott, she’s not supposed to be a dumb character. Yet, she is.
In fact, she has much in common with another Simpson, one Homer Simpson. Maybe it is because in real life she always plays dumb, or at least on reality TV, and everyone knows how real that stuff is, or maybe it is just something else, but either way it almost becomes a miracle that she can say her lines straight. She is in this purely as eye candy to make up for all the time the grizzled Willie Nelson shows his mug.
Of course, young teens hitting puberty won’t be likely to mind Ms. Simpson’s appearance. In fact, that would be about the right target audience for a movie that is so pleased to revel in the utter pointlessness of its stupidity.
Now, to be fair, the original television show was not exactly a masterpiece of subtle nuance humor and complex character development. Nor was it meant to be, and in the end it had its charm and it worked well for what it was trying to do.
Most importantly, it was a show of its time. It worked in the 70’s and 80’s for those audiences, and this new film fails partly because it is an updated version of a television show that was a stamp of its time.
In trying to appeal to a modern audience, all that made the original show what it was, for better or for worse, is basically lost. In short, this is basically an “Alabama Pie” or a “There’s Something About Daisy,” and although it knows its audience much as the original show did, everything comes off not only as stupid but also as oddly redundant. Besides sharing some character names and the basic southern premise, little here has anything to do with the original television show.
Some controversy has even risen partly due to this from Ben Jones, the actor who played Cooter on the original television show. Unhappy with this new vision from Broken Lizard, he has called the entire affair “a sleazy insult” that “trashed” the original show, and insisted that fans “hold their noses and pass this one up.”
Although it seems Mr. Cooter here is taking the lore of The Dukes of Hazzard a bit too seriously, he does at least have a point in that this new offering gleefully aims low, perhaps too low.
There is no heart here, or any semblance of emotion that even the average Adam Sandler movie carries. These Dukes from 2005 carry themselves with a bunch of visual gags which, depending on your sense of humor, fall flat or make up for most everything else.
Also, another problem likely lies in the fact that the original show lasted only for an hour at a time. Go much past that mark, and silly becomes just tedious. Running at over 106 minutes, too, near the end the minutes begins to feel like hours and then years. A beard began to grow on the man two rows down.
Ultimately, after a summer of dark and somewhat mature action blockbusters, The Dukes of Hazzard will likely do quite well, much like the Wedding Crashers, helped by the fact that it is one of the only comedies in release theatrically now. People want a laugh, and this has it. Well, sort of. It’s just too bad that in trying to offer variety, the best Hollywood and Broken Lizard has to offer is the same old, same old. At least there are some nice car chases, set to the tune of “Yeehaw!”
Critic’s Conclusion: If you have seen the trailer, you know what you’re getting into. If watching Johnny Knoxville and Sean William Scott be the typical dumb but loveable idiots and Jessica Simpson being the typical dumb but hot blonde is your cup of tea, by all means go see this new The Dukes of Hazzard and have fun. If not, then you might want to skip a trip to the theatre and save some hard-earned cash.