I’ll start out by saying I’m not a purist. But if you’re going to take something as ain’t-broke as the Dukes of Hazzard, you daggum well better know what you’re doing when you try to fix it. This movie has a lot of changes. Some work well and some don’t, but the end product isn’t nearly as good as the source material. It is a lot of fun if you don’t think too hard about it. The show really was great, though, and I need to revisit it sooner rather than later.
Any Dukes of Hazzard film is going to live or die by its car chases and especially the jumps. Through most of the film they do not disappoint. The jump onto the highway in Atlanta is one of the greatest jumps I’ve ever seen on the screen. They just about ruin it all, though, with the last jump, a CGI atrocity. When will filmmakers learn that just because it can be done in CGI doesn’t mean it won’t look like trash? (From the DVD extras, they actually did the real jump (with dummies), then ruined it with CGI. And they planned to do the same with the rest of the jumps, but those looked so great even their own foolishness wouldn’t let them ruin them.) A lot of the other car stunts are truly special. The car chase in Atlanta is one of the greatest film chases of all time.
The filmmakers made some strange choices in adaptation. The Dukes and their allies replace Boss Hogg and Roscoe P. Coltrane as the comic foils, but neither Hogg nor Roscoe (M.C. Gainey isn’t half as scary as he was in Justified) can manage to be terribly menacing. The movie (especially the unrated version) is also quite risqué. I have no philosophical disagreement with that, but let’s be honest—the Dukes don’t need to go lowest common denominator to entertain. I guess the thinking was that the old Dukes fans have all grown up, but the old Dukes formula would always be beloved by kids (and those of us that still like to pretend we’re kids from time to time). The slightly less risqué jokes from the theatrical version were also funnier in a few cases, and I can’t think of any where the opposite is true.
On the other hand, I am happy to see them being entirely open about Uncle Jesse’s moonshining operation.
Jessica Simpson tries hard, and fails, to look as good as Catherine Bach, but I’m not complaining. Willie Nelson as Uncle Jesse just fires off one-liners. The soundtrack is mostly southern rock mainstays, and it’s a downright joy for country boy’s when the General Lee fires up and Black Betty cranks up.
Broken Lizard (of Super Troopers fame) eventually took over a troubled production. They left many a hat tip to their marquee production. Governor Jessman (Lynda Carter), the fast food cashier, and the Vermont state troopers from Super Troopers all make appearances. There is also an allusion to the side-splitting opening scene.
DVD extras include: Daisy Dukes: the short short shorts, the General Lee lives, how to launch a muscle car 175 feet in 4 seconds, the hazards of Dukes, the These Boots are Made for Walking music video, additional scenes, unrated additional scenes, bloopers, unrated bloopers, and the theatrical trailer.
3.5 of 5 Stars.
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