out of Five
Running time: 106
It’s probably fair to say that the twin successes of Charlie’s Angels and Starsky & Hutch are directly to blame for The Dukes of Hazzard, which is the latest in a long line of big screen adaptations of classic TV shows. Can the Knight Rider and A-Team movies really be far behind? At any rate, The Dukes of Hazzard has its moments but it’s little more than a forgettable Friday night comedy at heart.
Seann William Scott (still best known as American Pie’s Stifler) and Johnny “Jackass” Knoxville play good ol’ boys Bo and Luke Duke, a pair of moonshine-running cousins who are forever running foul of Hazzard County’s corrupt Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds) and his thuggish sidekick Rosco P.
Coltrane (MC Gainey). Whenever they get into trouble they’re bailed out by their wily Uncle Jesse (Willy Nelson) and their foxy cousin Daisy Duke (Jessica Simpson).
The plot, such as it is, involves Hogg’s plans to strip-mine rural Hazzard County and the use of an annual championship road race as a cover. But it’s really just an excuse to drive fast and blow stuff up.
The appeal of the TV series rested on three precise elements of the show:
the superb stunt driving (as well as the way the boys always used to leap over the bonnet and dive through the windows of their souped-up orange car, the General Lee); the buddy-buddy relationship of the two leads (particularly during fight scenes); and Catherine Bach’s scantily-clad appearances as Daisy Duke.
To be fair, the film scores two out of three on that scale: the stunt driving is very impressive and genuinely exciting in places (the out-takes reveal just how dangerous the stunts were); and there’s a likeable chemistry between Scott and Knoxville.
However, the less said about Jessica Simpson, the better. She’s so bad that she almost single-handedly scuppers the movie. She literally couldn’t act if her life depended on it – she appears to only be there to provide eye candy and, frankly, she’s not all that attractive in the first place. To add insult to injury, she even murders the song, These Boots Were Made For Walking. Come back Britney Spears, all is forgiven.
In short, this is one of those films where all the best jokes are in the trailer and in this case, the trailer isn’t that funny to begin with. Still, at least they managed to squeeze in the theme tune. Ultimately, it’s just about worth seeing for the stunts and for Scott and Knoxville, but when the biggest laugh comes from Bo calling Luke a “man-whore” then you know you’re in trouble.
The Dukes Of Hazzard (12A)