I grew up on The Dukes of Hazzard TV show. I frickin loved it. I even had a neighbor with an old, lime-green rusted out Dodge Charger in his backyard, that we'd go and play in, diving over the hood and jumping in through the windows, just like Tom Wopat and John Schnieder did during the TV show's run from 1979 to 1985. I asked my parents for a bow and flaming arrows, but that didn't fly too well. Anyway, you could imagine my elation when the decided to make a movie out of this classic TV show, and while the flick dissapointed on many levels, there is enough (barely) to get old fans and new into the theaters.
The flick starts out in the normally serene Hazzard County in the state of Georgia, with some peaceful images of the land and the narration from someone who isn't listed on the IMDB page, but is in the same style as Waylon Jennings narration on the TV show. But, of course these peaceful images are disturbed by the Duke boys, Bo (Scott) and Luke (Knoxville) in their 1969 Dodge Charger dubbed General Lee. As it should be, this scene sets the tone for the whole movie, but, unfortunately, since this is "updated" to present day, it gets bogged down a bit with particulars and the dialogue is downright dreadful in some places.
The acting here isn't too bad, with some pretty good turns from Seann William Scott as the General Lee-obsessed Bo and Knoxville as the laides man Luke. They have some great chemistry together and I was fairly pleased with their renditions of Bo and Luke. The only real exception to that was Bo's unnatural obsession with the General Lee, although that's more of the screenwriter's fault. But he talks to the car, mentions having sex with it, and it's a tad on the creepy side, especially at the end. Willie Nelson is a perfect fit for the feisty Uncle Jessie, David Koechner does a fairly decent job as the friendly mechanic Cooter, and Michael Weston does is perfect as the shy deputy Enos. Then there's Jessica Simpson as the leggy Daisy Duke, the namesake to the famous shortest o shorts. Sure, call her a dingbat, call her flighty, but after seeing her acting debut as Ms. Duke, I really couldn't picture anyone else in this role. She has the look and the attitude for Daisy down to a science, and did I mention she can rock the hell outta them shorts? Anyway, she does a pretty good job in her acting debut, and even though the role is mostly for show, she does a good job here for her debut.
There are some roles, though, that I just simply can't approve of. My favorite character in the whole TV series was Roscoe P. Coltrane, as played by the incomparable James Best in the TV series. Sadly, they did a piss-poor job of casting and writing for this wonderful character. They picked M.C. Gainey, last seen in Are We There Yet? and as the nude husband chasing after Thomas Haden Church in last years Sideways. Roscoe's character in the show was fairly dumb, but had a bug up his bum for the Duke boys, chasing after them with Southern glee, with his trusty sidekick, the dog Flash at his side. I was insanely disappointed that they rarely showed Flash, and that Gainey's portrayal of Roscoe was way too menacing. I know it's a remake/update vehicle, but he was honestly the best character out of the whole show, and they just butchered him and it really tans my hide. The other thing that bothered me was Burt Reynolds as Boss Hogg. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm a Burt Reynolds fan and all, and for the younger generation that hasn't seen the show, Burt's rendition of Boss Hogg will do just fine. I, however, am not among the younger generation, and just casting him was a bit of a mistake. First of all, Boss Hogg was a rather short, portly fellow, and Monsieur Reynolds doesn't quite fit that bill. I accept that this is a modernized version and all, but they could have kept some more traits of the old Hogg here, and I was a bit disappointed that they didn't.
The script by John O'Brien keeps a lot of the spirit of the old series alive, with the Duke boys non-law-abiding ways, the narrator and a bunch of wonderful car chase and race scenes. I liked how he handled updating the story to present day, but only in a few ways. There is a great scene where the Duke boys head to Atlanta and they don't quite know how to react to the city folk, being country boys and all. Atlanta is also the scene of some of the best car chase work I've ever seen on the silver screen, with a phenomenal scene with Bo doing a lengthy powerglide through a seemingly endless circular street, capped off by his line "Is there a point to this circle?" But O'Brien's dialogue just doesn't work in many places, with many jokes falling flat so much where there was total silence where the editing calls for laughter. Awkward moments, indeed. A lot of the "fish out of water moments" especially at the sorority house where the Duke's meet an old friend/crush just are worthless. And I'm pretty sure this wasn't O'Brien's fault, since director Jay Chandrasekhar and his Broken Lizzard troupe (Super Troopers) had done the original draft of the script, but they remade the first scene from Super Troopers, where the cops pull over a car of stoners. This time, the same two cops, as campus police, pull over the General Lee, and do the exact same gag, and, if there were crickets in the theater, you could've heard them. No laughs at all. The plotline isn't too bad, but it takes awhile to get going, though.
Chandrasekhar does a fine job at the helm, though, with some of the best car chase/race scenes I've ever seen on the silver screen. That lengthy powerglide is one of the coolest car-related things I've seen in awhile, and the old-school car jump scenes are just amazing. I wished he would've done better with the dialogue, but the action scenes, and his work with most of the actors is sufficient, though not great by any means.
Dukes of Hazzard is a movie about small-town living, big-time cars and tiny bikinis. It's eye candy at it's finest, with the ABC's of summer movies: Action, Bikinis and Car chases. But you won't be talking about the D for dialogue, though.