But the first hour of the movie is a punishing parade ofprotracted establishing, colorless characters and painful performancesthat make the picture's amusingly harebrained TV inspiration look likesophisticated action-comedy by comparison.
Seann William Scott (Stiffler from "AmericanPie") and Johnny Knoxville (MTV's "Jackass")play moonshine-running country cousins Bo and Luke Duke -- although theyhave little in common with the sexy charmers in cowboy hats and sparklingsmiles created so charismatically by John Schneider and Tom Wopat in 1979.Scott and Knoxville have re-imagined the characters as the Appalachianequivalent of frat boys, and their acting consists mostly of screaming"woo-hoo!" as they drive around dirt roads at 80 mph.
But at least these two are good for the occasional lowbrowlaugh. Candy-pop "singer" and professional celebrity JessicaSimpson steps into Catherine Bach's butt-hugging cut-off Levi's as sexpotkin Daisy Duke, and she's such a catastrophe as an actress that every timeshe opens her Barbie-doll mouth, just her fake Georgia drawl is enoughto make your ears bleed -- never mind her fumbling dialogue. Knowing whereher assets lie, writer-director Jay Chandrasekhar ("Club Dread,""Super Troopers") does his best to keep Simpson as silent andscantily clad as possible. But even in a bikini, she seems rigid and plastic.
The rest of the characters who had been so colorful, ifoften obnoxious, on the TV show (idiot sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane, hillbillymechanic Cooter, etc.) have been reduced to forgettable stock characters.In fact, the movie's only entertaining performance comes from Willie Nelson,playing the clan's joke-telling (and now pot-smoking) surrogate patriarchUncle Jesse.
In the porous, sloppy, slapped-together plot (as inaneas the show ever was, and lathered up with PG-13 vulgarity), the Dukesmust save Hazzard County from being strip-mined by the cartoonishly crookedstrongman Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds, phoning in much heinously clumsy exposition)while also winning an off-road rally in their bright orange, Confederate-flagemblazoned, thunder-engined, nearly indestructible 1969 Dodge Charger calledthe General Lee.
But these energetic, completely over-the-top race and chasescenes in "The Dukes of Hazzard" are such a gas that they savethe movie from being a complete disaster. Just like on the TV show theGeneral Lee spins out, screeches around corners, kicks up dust, outrunsthe sheriff and gets airborne whenever possible. Chandrasekhar giddilyembraces the absurdity of it all, having the car drive at an angle throughmuch of the movie, as if its back end were permanently fishtailed, andmaking sure every jump gets the car at least 50 feet off the ground --even if he has to use CGI effects to do it.
The General Lee's best scene, however, is a traffic jamin Atlanta (how it got there isn't worth explaining), during which yahoo-ingrednecks, embittered minorities and uppity soccer moms in passing vehiclesholler out their varied and vocal opinions of the stars-and-bars on thecar's roof. It's an amusing, self-deprecating way to address "Hazzard's"unabashed celebration of good-ol'-boy culture and all that it symbolizes.
But a touch of ironic self-awareness, a little raucouslyentertaining stunt driving, and some spectacular crash outtakes with theclosing credits aren't nearly enough to justify an $8 to $10 ticket pluspopcorn. Not when "The Dukes of Hazzard" reruns -- just as dumb,just as wild, but with far more appealing characters -- are on cable TVtwice a day.
Run time: 104 mins
In Theaters: Friday 5th August 2005
Box Office USA: $80.2M
Box Office Worldwide: $110.8M
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Production compaines: Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures, Gerber Pictures, WV Films III
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 13%
Fresh: 22 Rotten: 144
IMDB: 5.0 / 10
Director: Jay Chandrasekhar
Starring: Johnny Knoxville as Luke Duke, Seann William Scott as Bo Duke, Jessica Simpson as Daisy Duke, Alice Greczyn as Laurie Pullman, Burt Reynolds as Jefferson Davis 'Boss' Hogg, Joe Don Baker as Governor Jim Applewhite, Willie Nelson as Uncle Jesse Duke, Lynda Carter as Pauline, M.C. Gainey as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane, Michael Weston as Deputy Enos Strate, James Roday as Billy Prickett, David Koechner as Cooter Davenport, Jack Polick as Deputy Cletus Hogg, Kevin Heffernan as Sheev, Nikki Griffin as Katie Johnson, Steve Lemme as Jimmy, Michael Roof as Dil Driscoll
Also starring: Rip Taylor