An interesting take on older TV show that stands out because of it’s Director and Supporting Cast.
In certain parts this movie seemed to go for the cheap laughs when it didn’t need to.
At first when I heard that Jay Chandrasekhar was going to be helming the updated version of The Dukes of Hazzard, this action film seemed to be putting him a little out of his depth. Then the more I thought about it, I realized that the sensibilities of this Super Troopers Director, was just what this film needed. Left in the hands of a complete action director, The Dukes of Hazzard would have had a comic zing but it would have felt familiar. If left to a straight up comedy director, I think that the film would have suffered from not being as entertaining as it could have been. I don’t know what the learning curve is, but the process of going from being an independent filmmaker to the big budget one that Chandrasekhar has, started off gradually and has seemed to make a giant leap forward.
In this tale of The Dukes of Hazzard, we get Johnny Knoxville as Luke Duke and Seann William Scott as Bo Duke. These two guys tool around in the General Lee, getting into mayhem and ultimately they try and stop Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds) from turning their town into a strip mine. With a lot of jokes, girls and car races/chases ultimately what saves this film for me is the fact that I feel Chandrasekhar brought his unique sensibility to it. Coming from the Broken Lizard Comedy Group, I was leery as drama groups often have an “outdated” and “typical” sense of what’s funny. These guys have a skewed sense of humor that is just accessible enough to make them major players.
Daisy Dukes: The Short Shorts; The General Lee Lives and How to Launch A Muscle Car 175 Feet in 4 Seconds
Yes, there is an entire featurette devoted to the shorts that Jessica Simpson wears in the movie. Titled Daisy Dukes: The Short Shorts, Jessica talks about having a “flat ass” and we are then treated to the people who made the shorts complaining about how difficult it was. Okay, after awhile even I got tired of looking at the blonde beauty. The General Lee Lives is a nice salute/tribute to the famous car with the rebel flag on the hood. I was never that big a fan of the show although I was familiar with it, and as such I have a cursory knowledge of the General Lee. Fans of automobiles will especially find this segment of the DVD interesting. How to Launch A Muscle Car 175 Feet in 4 Seconds looks at the jumps that the General performed in the movie. I have to give the filmmakers and technical people credit because much of what we are seeing in the movie is very real. Sure, there are effects employed (it doesn’t seem like you can make a film today without them), but I was just impressed with how truly huge these shots were. Movies like The Dukes of Hazzard seem so big and one may wonder how a Director could do all this stuff. Well, the Director gets a lot of the credit even though he often has upwards of 30-50 people helping him out.
The Hazards of Dukes; These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ Music Video; Additional Scenes and Bloopers
The Hazards of Dukes is a behind the scenes expose on this film. While half of it is serious, there is also a lot of it that isn’t. Much of the jokes are done by Knoxville and Scott and aside from that, this bonus feature plays much like an electronic press kit. I did get a kick out of hearing Seann William Scott talk about doing his own stunts. This brings us to Jessica Simpson These Boots Are Made for Walkin' Music Video. This is purely spectacle and is essentially Simpson, scantily clad, dry humping the General Lee. I don’t mean to be so crass but lets call it what it is. Lastly, the Additional Scenes and Bloopers have rated and unrated versions of both. As you can guess, the rated versions are PG-13 and are pretty tame. The Unrated versions have more nudity and gags like Knoxville, pretending to be doing naughty things to Seann William Scott, while against a green screen in the General Lee. What I thought was interesting was how all these Additional Scenes were edited to follow the general story arc of the movie itself.
Widescreen Version presented in a “Letterbox” widescreen format preserving the “scope” aspect ratio of it’s original theatrical exhibition. Enhanced for widescreen TVs. This movie looks like a Broken Lizard film. By that, I mean that it seems set in it’s own time and place. I remember getting a lot of grief because my friends couldn’t understand that I went to see Super Troopers. Then, they couldn’t understand why gave it a good review. I think this is because the film had no big stars and was an unknown commodity. Yet, I got the same feeling during most of this film. It really has a sense of time and place and while the jokes get “typical” in spots, I found that there was enough good humor to make me really enjoy this movie.
Dolby Digital - English: Dolby 5.1. They have thankfully saved the TV theme song for the movie and even left in the narrator who sort of “gives us information” as the film rolls. There is honestly nothing that special about the audio, but I like how Chandrasekhar uses it to put in asides and whatnot. For instance, main characters will be talking and then a peripheral one will walk by and say something that’s usually funny. This is something that Robert Altman used to do, and this “aside” or “throw away” humor is exactly what sets Broken Lizard apart from most drama groups. They don’t call attention to the fact that something “should be” funny and as a result it is funny.
Knoxville, Scott, Simpson and Simpson’s mammary glands are all on display on this somewhat animated front cover. The back features this fearsome trio but this time they are crowded around the General Lee. There is a description of the movie, a “Special Features” listing, a cast list and of course the requisite technical specs. Overall, this “Unrated” version keeps very much with the heart of both the movie and the show. While I don’t know that a rated and unrated version needed to be released in the DVD marketplace, it’s nice that consumers have more of a choice for what they want to see.
Jessica Simpson is a good sport because she knows that she is only in this movie as eye candy, yet she plays her role of Daisy Duke with as much earnestness as she can muster. In the wake of her “surprising” separation from Nick Lachey, something tells me she is going to be forever defined by the roles she takes and the way she behaves now. I would also like to spotlight Kevin Heffernan in the role of Sheev. I first saw this guy in Super Troopers and thought he was truly great as Farva. In the role of Sheev, he plays it a little over the top, but it’s nice to see that Chandrasekhar is taking people with him as he ascends the Hollywood ladder. Some people may disagree, but I am heavily reminded of John Landis and his Animal House crew when I think of Broken Lizard.
The Dukes of Hazzard was released August 5, 2005.