If you are looking for a film where brain cells are essential then The Dukes of Hazzard is not for you. If you are looking for stupid car chases, no plot and a big broad sense of fun then you should enjoy it. Anyone who expects a cleverly crafted plot will be sorely disappointed. What little plot there is will not be chasing the nominations for the best screenplay Oscars. But then again, if memory serves, there was rarely an engaging plot in the original television series.
A typical summer blockbuster is what is on offer here and while Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott do well enough as cousins Bo and Luke Duke, it is the car, the General Lee, that is the star of this tale and the character with the most screen time. Of the two cousins Johnny Knoxville is surprisingly charismatic as Luke, the brains of the outfit – mind you that is not saying much, Sean William’s Scott lays on the American Pie dumb blonde a little too thickly here.
In The Dukes of Hazzard, the Duke boys spend their days delivering Uncle Jessie’s home-brewed moonshine. Uncle Jesse is played bizarrely but somehow effectively by Willie Nelson. They are usually rescued from scrapes by ditzy-looking blonde cousin Daisy Duke, played by Jessica Simpson. She may be the brains, but she ain’t no feminist role model – or if she is it’s of the Jodie Marsh school of girl power – coming clad for the boys in short shorts or swimming costumes.
The baddies are fairly well done. Burt Reynolds plays the snake in the grass Boss Hogg with a good deal of cheesy charm. The white suit and cigars do much of the work and he looks like an actor enjoying being an old southern bad boy. His puppet Sheriff Rosco Coltrane, played by M C Gainey is not as good as James Best in the TV original but he does enough to make him menacing as well as stupid.
Despite the acting talent assembled there is no doubt who steals the show. The car the General Lee. Thankfully most of the car chases are edited in a traditional way, unlike the hyper speed, fast edit chases favoured in recent films such as the Bourne Supremacy, and, judging from the outtakes at the end, which are definitely worth staying behind for, director Jay Chandrasekhar did not take making the film too seriously.
What is best about this film is the spirit and style with which it bounces onto the screen, with no pretence to be anything other than a big, brash, tongue in cheek comedy that delivers enough to remain entertaining. This is by no means the worst re-make of a ’70s TV series to make it to the big screen, but a word to the big bosses in Hollywood who seem happy to churn out nostalgiafest remakes from television’s glory days: That’s enough folks.