Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Dukes of Hazzard

The Dukes of Hazzard (Director: Jay Chandrasekhar)

Chandrasekhar is part of the Broken Lizard team, and he directed and acted in cult comedy favorites Super Troopers and Club Dread. I wasn't a particularly big fan of those. Chandrasekhar has also directed a few episodes of "Arrested Development," where he clearly had better writers to work with. Sorry, Jay, but The Dukes of Hazzard screenplay comes to you courtesy of John O'Brien, who was one of the many writers of another (awful) TV series-to-film, Starsky And Hutch. He is also responsible for one of the most ridiculous movies of all time: Cradle 2 the Grave. This movie, of course, is the film version of the 1979-1985 TV series.

Growing up in Tennessee, you would think that I'd have all of the episodes of Dukes of Hazzard memorized, and that I have Waylon Jennings' recording of "Good Ol' Boys" playing as soon as I walk in my front door. But my familiarity with the series pretty much stops at the intro. If I watched this show, I don't remember anything about it. So, I really have nothing to base the movie's "faithfulness" on, but I'm pretty sure the series avoided saying "shit" in a drinking-game number of instances.

One thing to know is that there isn't any plot. So, the movie must entirely rely on car chases and Jessica Simpson's highly-toned Nick-Lachey-jealousy-inducing body to make it worthwhile. Does it succeed? Surprisingly...hell no! The fact that Jessica Simpson's few scenes upstage all the car chases, Seann William Scott, and Johnny Knoxville tell you that the marketing for this movie got it right (show Simpson in bikinis and saying stuff like, "I think something bounced up into my undercarriage.") and the movie got it wrong (relegating Simpson to mere supporting status). Sure, I'll bet Daisy Duke didn't get all the attention in the original series, but she sure should have here. There are almost no laughs to be had, almost no real fun, not even any cheap enjoyment.

Burt Reynolds, as Boss Hogg, may give his worst performance of his entire career. I remember seeing an interview with Barbara Walters before the 1997 Oscars (he got nominated for Boogie Nights), where Walters asked, "If you don't win, what will you do?" Reynolds replied, "Then you will see the best acting you will ever see." Hard to argue, really, when you look at Reynolds' track record after 1997 with classics such as Universal Soldier II: Brothers In Arms and Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business, not to mention last year's Without A Paddle and this summer's The Longest Yard. If you think I'm being selective, only highlighting the crap that he's done since 1998, just go to the IMDb.

Also, those new-millennium jokes concerning "Scooby-Doo" where we speculated that Daphne and Fred were snoggin' while everyone else was really looking for clues, and where we further speculate that Scooby Snacks were actually ways to get high, has littered almost every TV-series adaptation since, like The Brady Bunch movies showing sexual tension between sister Marcia and brother Greg. In this, although there's no real attempt to be subversive--there's a comment from one character that Bo and Luke should be "kissin' cousins" with Daisy, and there's an early gag where Uncle Jesse (Willie Nelson) appears to be walking in on Daisy taking a shower (but it's her helping out with that wholesome moonshine business). And what movie with Willie Nelson would be complete without showing him in the light as a stoner? Obviously, Michael Mann's Thief wasn't.

It's also not surprising that Joe Don Baker is in this. Enough said.

Former Georgia congressman Ben Jones, who played Cooter in the original series, has spoken out against this movie for its randier depictions, where he claims the series was just clean fun. Come on, now. Are two guys always running from the law, moonshining, good clean fun? Anyway, he shouldn't be worried about this movie being a huge hit. There will be some curiosity-seekers this weekend, but once this movie grazes the audience's eyes, there will be many screams of "It burns! It burns!"


At 8/04/2005 08:35:00 AM, Blogger Kevin Rector said...

When I was a kid The Dukes was probably my absolute favorite show and Cooter was right, it was just good clean fun.

1. I don't think there was any moonshine in the TV series. In fact, as a child I couldn't ever figure out what it was that got them in trouble with the law since the day they were born (other than speeding).

2. Boss Hogg was corrupt, at least I'm pretty sure he was. That's why Bo and Luke were the good guys in the series. I think.

3. I don't remember the TV show having any plot either, but it didn't need to because it was (as far as I can tell) a show aimed directly at very young males and it had car chases and a Daisy Duke.

4. This movie is most likely an abomination, I don't even need to see it. I saw enough crap in the trailers to realize that this movie is garbage. It wasn't even cast correctly for crying out loud. Bo and Luke are supposed to be strong good looking guys who always win. In the original series part of the draw was that every little boy wanted to be a Duke brother.

5. At least there's no mention of Coy and Vance - I hope (Again I didn't see it, I'm making an assumption).

At 8/04/2005 09:09:00 AM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

You said Coy and Vance!!


At 8/04/2005 10:41:00 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Perhaps--and maybe I'm wrong--the moonshining was implied, and could never be said due to censor restraints.

Obviously, also, I'm not making any real comment on the series here because I never really saw it (or remember it).

And, sure, there's nothing wrong with the "no plot" thing, as long as you get some fun out of it. There isn't any, as you surmised.

And yes, no Coy and Vance. Or any Legend of Bagger Vance for that matter.

At 8/04/2005 11:37:00 AM, Blogger MaraJade said...

How disappointing.

Guess I'll save my movie night for "four brothers" instead. Any news on that one?

At 8/04/2005 01:42:00 PM, Anonymous John B said...

There was a plot!!!!

It was the same for every episode. Here it goes:

Crooks come into town and rob bank/bar/truck/gas station/Boss Hogg. Boss Hogg is outraged, blames the Duke boys and car chases ensue. The Duke boys catch the bad guys and clear their name much to Hogg's chagrin. the only plot change was that about 50% of the time, Boss Hogg was involved in the crime just to frame the Dukes, but he was never convicted!

At 8/04/2005 07:44:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

Wait!!! "Dukes of Hazzard" isn't any good? It's not going to be up for any Oscars? How will I get the money back on the tickets I bought to all five shows at my local theater tommorrow? HOW????????

At 8/06/2005 03:58:00 PM, Blogger Mike said...



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