The Dukes of Hazzard

The Dukes of Hazzard is a film starring an actor best-known for playing a jock named Stifler, and features a bad guy named Prickett. Should I just end the review here? Nawww. That would be chickensheeit, raht? Especially since I have Jessica Simpson to rag on. In her own words, "It's cool for your first movie to go completely open to just fall on your face." Uh, mission accomplished. Dukes is based upon the television series of the same name that started in 1979 and ran for six seasons. The basic plot of each episode was the same, involving two good ol' moonshine-peddling cousins, Bo and Luke Duke, a dastardly land-grabbing businessman, Boss Hogg, his pet Sheriff, Rosco, the boys' uncle, Jesse, who brewed the 'shine, and the boys' hot cousin, Daisy. Hogg would try to take over the Duke property, with the help of Rosco, and the cousins, driving The General Lee, a souped-up, bright orange '69 Dodge Charger, would lead the local Keystone Kops on spectacular chases. Daisy Duke, a direct descendant of voluptuous Daisy Mae Scragg of Al Capp's Lil' Abner cartoon, was a sexy, pouty shorty shorts-wearing gal who liked to bounce her bouncies and reduce any male in the vicinity to a babbling, slobbering boobasaurus. The show was mindless fun, and you were ready for the next episode in much the same way as you're ready for your next meal: the last one was history and you were hungry again.

The TV Daisy was played by Catherine Bach, a brunette. But since Pamela Anderson ruined it for brunettes in the bimbo department, they picked alleged singer Jessica Simpson for the movie role. Best-known for her MTV reality show, "Newlyweds", with now-estranged husband Nick Lachey, Simpson, as Daisy, doesn't come off as just stupid. She comes off as super duper stupid - Six Flags over stupid. Now, you might be thinking, so what, the Daisy character is supposed to be stupid. Okay, but to play stupid convincingly you have to be able to act. Oops! When given a few lines of dialogue between jiggles, Simpson jerks her head spastically while grinning like a giant smile button. Wait: I've seen this Tourettes-like thing before. Jessica's been taking acting lessons from J-Lo! And, based on her new line of edible beauty products (eat meeee!) and her JS clothing, merchandising lessons too.

Johnny Knoxville, the Jackass of TV and film, plays Luke Duke. With his bed head and big grin, he has good chemistry with even bigger-grinned Seann William Scott (American Pie 1-3), who plays Bo Duke. Given their respective pedigrees, these guys are perfect for a movie where holy hell is gonna be raised. So far, so good. We know from the TV series that there are going to be rootin' tootin' shootin' car chases, incredible stunts, cool crashes, really bad bad guys, and wild Southern women. The problem is, the film seems to be aiming to find out how many interminable car chases and repetitive shots of the cousins' screaming faces anybody can stand without blasting the hell out of the screen with a twelve gauge.

The film aims for the moronic, but bullseyes the idiotic. Simpson wiggles her butt, which she apparently had to de-flatten through heavy pre-shooting workouts (thanks for sharing, Jess!), saying things like, "Something bounced up under my undercarriage". Bo and Luke act like the kind of retards who win Darwin awards for accidentally killing themselves in incredibly stupid ways, thus sparing the gene pool.

Since Jessica wasn't, I'm sure, going topless in this film at any price, the producers probably thought to themselves, hey, we've got a pretty nifty flick here. Cars, booze, violence... Wait a minute, something's missing... I know, NAKED CHICKS! Hmmm, now where would we find naked chicks? (Light bulb clicks on in producer's head and explodes) I've got it, COLLEGE! Sure enough, the cuzzes visit a sorority house looking for a girl from back home. They barge into the wrong rooms and find... Alright, so they're not totally naked. They're wearing panties. Boy, these college girls are great. Strange guys barge in, and they keep on pillow fighting, boxing, and bouncing their boobs because... they're college girls. "Do you have an application?" asks Luke of a stunning blonde. "Not on me!" giggles Silicone Sister, in one of the few funny exchanges of the film. This was such a blatant ripoff of a hundred blatant ripoffs of Animal House that I could almost see the goggle-eyed ghost of John Belushi, atop a ladder, falling backwards from the window. Thanks to the rollicking boobfest, Jessica gets away with just being a cockteaser, a blonde bestower of blue balls.

Burt Reynolds, who's earned his good ol' boy film cred with the Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run series, gets emeritus status here as a dandy Boss Hogg, and he still does that thing with his upper lip. Willie Nelson, looking like he could be knocked down with a blade of Kentucky bluegrass, still manages to deck Hogg. Twice. Spouting dirty one-liners as he throws Molotov cocktails made from moonshine jars out a car window, the old codger looks like he's having a whale of a time. Plus, he gets to sing the theme song with no assist from Jessica. (Halleluja!) The rest of the cast does a creditable job floundering around in a pigpen of a plot. And, just in case you're watching the film in a persistent vegetative state, there's a narrator to keep you up on important plot points.

Dukes offers a few scattered gags and some creative mayhem amidst the overall dross, but it doesn't look as if director Jay Chandrasekhar (of Club Dread and the comedy troupe Broken Lizard) had to do much except turn The General Lee and the Dukes loose. All in all, the film's a waste of 50 million clams and 32, yes 32, antique Dodge Chargers. Big fun for the cast and crew, no fun for you. The disc is a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Colors are rich, skin tones accurate, and the blacks are deep. The detail is excellent. The sound is Dolby Digital 5.1, the dialogue is clear and the music well-reproduced.

Bonus features:

"Daisy Dukes: The Short Shorts": The story of how the Daisy character, based on Barbie's body type, was created and what it took for Jessica Simpson to fill out those shorts. She tells us flat-out that, before filming was set to begin, she had no butt to speak of, and she worked out endlessly to round things out. For the twelve to fourteen year-old demographic, there’s a tutorial on how to make shorts. Not a terribly interesting feature for the rest of us, I fear. One does get a sense of Jessica Simpson’s need to be seen on an equal footing with her male costars, particularly since her poor acting reportedly resulted in a number of scenes where she had to do more than wiggle and jiggle being cut.

"The General Lee Lives": How 32 Dodge Chargers of approximately the right vintage were fixed up to be crash fodder for the film. An amazing amount of effort was put forth, considering their fate, to make the cars authentic, including buying earlier and later models and modifying them.

"How to Launch a Muscle Car 175 Feet in 4 seconds: this may be of interest to car buffs and the technically inclined. Don't try it at home.

"The Hazards of Duke": Stunt drivers, barroom punch-ups, Willie Nelson "decking" Burt Reynolds with a shot that looks like it just might flatten a gnat. You can always tell who’s got the most juice by who gets to knock whom out in a movie. Poor Burt’s career has definitely slid. Kinda sad, since his Smoky and the Bandit films inspired the “Dukes of Hazzard” TV show in the first place.

"These Boots Are Made for Walking" Music Video: for those who didn't get enough of Jessica Simpson's plastic, pathetic, pseudo-sexy performance in the film. She looks and acts like an expensive, anatomically accurate love doll.

Additional scenes consisted largely of unrated boobaramas. As for the bloopers, it’s hard to find these funny since the film is one big blooper.

Overall, not a particularly interesting set of bonus features. Director Chandrasekhar, evidently jealous of the people in front of the camera, makes a point of saying he can kick Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott's butts. After seeing this film, you might feel the same way. So renter beware, buyer forget it!