Directed by: Jay Chandrasekhar
Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott, Burt Reynolds, Willie Nelson, Jessica Simpson
With the five or six functioning brain cells remaining to me after watching The Dukes of Hazzard (I know people who've come off two-week benders with less brain damage than I feel I suffered from 105 minutes of this movie), I've been trying to think of anything vaguely positive to say about it. All I can come up with is that it's not Stealth. And it's shorter, too.
Other than that ... OK, I laughed at the gag about a book-on-tape of a race driver's autobiography being read by Laurence Fishburne. And I identified with the Australian girl suffering from motion sickness during a wild ride in the 1969 Dodge Charger known as the General Lee, saying, "I need a plastic bag." I understood how she felt.
Of course, I should confess that I was not -- and am not -- a fan of the original TV show. I'm not even sure I've ever seen an entire episode, although it was impossible to be alive during the show's heyday and not be aware of the basic mechanics of the thing. I know it involves the Duke cousins, moonshine, car chases and outwitting the local variant on Huey Long, Boss Hogg.
I am given to understand that the TV show is now considered a "classic" -- a point I don't intend on debating, since I notice the term "classic" is applied willy and nilly where series television is concerned. I am fairly certain, however, that the show was never quite as low as this obnoxious celebration of stupidity.
Of course, simply casting Johnny Knoxville in anything is to aim for maximum obnoxiosity (if that's not a word, it should be). I can think of no other actor -- living, dead or undecided -- who so completely embodies such a uniquely awful combination of sleaze and perpetually appearing in need of a bath. The latter might serve well enough for the role of Luke Duke, since the Hollywooden notion of the South seems to rank personal hygiene nearly as low as literacy and the wearing of shoes.
I suppose casting the innately sweet and innocent Seann William Scott as Luke's cousin Bo Duke was meant to balance out Knoxville. It isn't enough -- nor is the casting of Jessica Simpson as the boys' mutual cousin (I have not worked out the lineage here because I don't care). Prior to the movie, my only encounter with Simpson amounted to seeing her face plastered all over online entertainment columns, and I'd have been content to leave it at that. Ah well, the best I can say about her performance (like she was hired for her thespian qualities) is that she fails to reach either the level of incompetence, or annoyance, of Paris Hilton in House of Wax.
And then there's Burt Reynolds as Boss Hogg, the villain of the piece. Now, I hadn't noticed so much that Reynolds looked like a monument to plastic surgery in The Longest Yard -- perhaps that was because he was grizzled-looking, or possibly it was the fact that he played his role in that film with a sense of pleasant self-mockery. Here, clean-shaven and spruced-up, it's impossible not to notice that his face is virtually immobile, apart from his mouth and eyebrows. I don't think he did anything even remotely humorous, but his appearance was so distracting that I won't swear to this.
Willie Nelson as yet another Duke -- this one a jovial moonshiner called Uncle Jesse -- appears to have spent his time between scenes engaging in, let's say, excessive deep-breathing exercises. Who can blame him? Lynda Carter is on-hand, too, for some inexplicable reason (at least she doesn't seem to be related to anyone else in the cast). Her best scene appears in the trailer, but not in the final cut of the movie.
Since the movie was directed by Jay Chandrasekhar (who pointlessly reworks a scene from Super Troopers into the proceedings), we're also blessed with other hangovers from Broken Lizard -- including Kevin Heffernan. No sooner had I congratulated the makers of Sky High for keeping Heffernan's clothes on him than I am here rewarded with the sight of him playing most of his scenes bedecked in a pair of filthy briefs. I did not need to see this.
But then I also didn't need to see a dozen or more stupid car chases, a couple of yokels smacking each other with a phone book, Jessica Simpson displaying her talents every few minutes to distract whatever sex-starved schlep is currently tormenting the Dukes, nonstop property damage and reckless endangerment passed off as comedy, or anything else in this movie.
The plot? Oh, yes, there is one -- something about the Dukes thwarting Boss Hogg's scheme to strip-mine Hazzard County. Those unable to guess whether he is successful will have their moviegoing licenses revoked. Rated PG-13 for sexual content, crude and drug-related humor, language and comic action violence.
-- reviewed by Ken Hanke