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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Jay Chandrasekhar
Cast:
Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott, Burt Reynolds, Jessica Simpson, Michael Weston, M.C. Gainey, David Koechner, Willie Nelson, Jack Polick
Writing Credits:
John O'Brien, Jonathan L. Davis, Gy Waldron (characters)

Tagline:
Cousins. Outlaws. Thrillbillies.

Synopsis:
Set in present day, The Dukes of Hazzard follows the adventures of "good old boy" cousins Bo (Seann William Scott) and Luke (Johnny Knoxville) Duke, who with the help of their eye-catching cousin Daisy (Jessica Simpson) and moonshine-running Uncle Jesse (Willie Nelson), try and save the family farm from being destroyed by Hazzard County's corrupt commissioner Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds). Their efforts constantly find the "Duke Boys" eluding authorities in "The General Lee," their famed 1969 orange Dodge Charger that keeps them one step ahead of the dimwitted antics of the small southern town's Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane (M.C. Gainey).

Box Office:
Budget
$53 million.
Opening Weekend
$30.675 million on 3785 screens.
Domestic Gross
$80.270 million.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 107 min.
Price: $28.98
Release Date: 12/6/2005

Bonus:
• “Daisy Dukes: The Short Short Shorts” Featurette
• “The General Lee Lives” Featurette
• “How to Launch a Muscle Car 175 Feet in 4 Seconds” Featurette
• “The Hazards of Dukes” Featurette
• Music Video
• Additional Scenes
• Bloopers
• Trailer


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RELATED REVIEWS


The Dukes Of Hazzard: Unrated (2005)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 23, 2005)

For the life of me, I can’t recall whether I liked The Dukes of Hazzard as a kid. I think I did, and I know that I had a schoolboy crush on Catherine Bach, but my memories of the series remain murky.

This meant that I went into the 2005 big-screen version of Dukes without any particular axe to grind. This wasn’t something like 1994’s Flintstones flick; that TV series remains one of my all-time faves, so I clearly entered into the movie with a chip on my shoulder.

No such issue burdened my screening of Dukes, however. Admittedly, I tire of movie adaptations of old TV shows, but I bear no consistent grudge against them. I think they can work out fine when done well.

Where does Dukes fall on the spectrum of TV show adaptations? Somewhere in the middle, which came as a surprise. I expected a stupid flick with no entertainment value, but I got a stupid flick with more than a few glimmers of amusement.

The film’s plot borders on irrelevant, but I’ll recap it anyway. The flick focuses on the adventures of cousins Bo (Seann William Scott) and Luke (Johnny Knoxville) Duke. They deliver moonshine for their Uncle Jesse (Willie Nelson), and Bo also succeeds as a local race driver. He looks forward to his fifth consecutive victory in the annual Hazzard County road race. However, an obstacle arrives when former four-time champion – and now pro driver – Billy Prickett (James Roday) returns to compete.

It turns out he’s there to create a diversion for local mogul Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds). Hogg frames the Dukes to take over their land, and they learn that he’s done the same to claim other connected properties. With the aid of their sexy cousin Daisy (Jessica Simpson) and others, Bo and Luke attempt to find out Hogg’s plan and stop it. Along the way, they try to avoid law enforcement authorities and score with some babes – oh, and Bo still wants to win that race.

When I heard about this adaptation of Dukes, I figured it boasted roughly a two percent chance it wouldn’t suck. The project had “stinkbomb” written all over it. The film looked like nothing more than lowest common denominator pandering and yet another attempt to recycle a popular name for some quick bucks.

In truth, I must admit the movie pleasantly surprised me – to a degree. At no point does Dukes threaten to become a particularly good film. However, at no point does it ever scrape the bottom of the barrel as I expected.

Dukes both embraces and mocks its heritage. The flick certainly digs self-referential humor, and it enjoys its attempts to bring the rednecks into the 21st century. There’s an awareness of the series’ less than PC elements, as spotlighted by a scene that attacks and applauds the Confederate flag stenciled on the roof of the General Lee. I don’t think the TV series boasted much ironic self-awareness of the world at large, but the movie has that in spades.

The flick also enjoys poking fun at itself and at its predecessor. One running gag revolves around the fact that everyone has to get into the General Lee via the windows. The movie doesn’t let this pass without comment, as it turns this into a joke.

I don’t know how well this sense of ironic detachment will sit with fans of the series. The movie spends about 30 percent of its time in an embrace of the TV show’s goofy stupidity. We get plenty of car chases and shouts of “yee-haw” uttered without much mockery.

It’s the other 70 percent of Dukes that might rile the fans. Most of the flick parodies the source and its subtext. Dukes is much closer to adaptations like Starsky & Hutch or Charlie’s Angels than it is to SWAT.

And that was fine with me. As I noted earlier, I feel no reverence for the source material. Honestly, I barely remember watching the series; I know I did, but I maintain little recollection of it. A straight remake of the show would bore me, but the movie Dukes added just enough wit and spark to make it watchable.

Though I don’t want to overstate its case. Dukes was moderately enjoyable, and it passed the time fine, but it didn’t become anything better than that. I was so relieved that I didn’t hate the flick that anything else was gravy.

I will admit I enjoyed Dukes much more than I expected, though. While I clearly don’t see it as anything special, it has some amusing moments, many of which come due to the oddly intense performance of Scott. He turns Bo into something of a weirdo; although I don’t remember the TV series very well, I seriously doubt he was quite so strange when played by John Schneider.

For this movie, however, it works. Once you get past the off-putting elements of Scott’s performance, he becomes entertaining. I like his wobbly-kneed attitude around Katie Johnson (Nikki Griffin), the girl he loves, and his perverse affection for the General Lee also succeeds. It’s an unquestionably unusual take on the role, but it’s a fun one.

Somehow The Dukes of Hazzard manages to delight in its screams of “yee-haw” and its car chases but also gets in a subtle reference to The Usual Suspects. I expected the former but not the latter. It’s that sense of mild cleverness and occasional self-reference that makes the movie surprisingly watchable.

Note that this review covered the unrated cut of Dukes. A sticker on the cover “warns” us that “This unrated film contains nudity, obscenity and drug use”. Funny how that disclaimer makes the movie so much more enticing!

Although the unrated Dukes lasts only a couple minutes longer than the theatrical cut, it indeed delivers the promised nudity, obscenity and drug use. The last one comes in a quick scene with Uncle Jesse at the end, while the closing credits’ blooper reel delivers most of the profanity. The body of the flick features two “f-bombs”, which is one more than normal for a “PG-13” effort, but the F’s fly freely in that gag reel.

As for the nudity, most of that comes from the scenes at the college. I think that the theatrical cut kept the sorority girls clothed, but here they’re topless. Does any of this make Dukes a better movie? Not in the least, but the day I complain about topless babes is the day I die!


The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus B-

The Dukes of Hazzard appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. For a movie that hit the screens only four months before its DVD debut, I expect a solid transfer, and that's what I got.

Sharpness looked terrific. No instances of softness ever crept into the image. Instead, it always appeared tight and well-defined. I noticed no jagged edges or moiré effects, and only a smidgen of edge enhancement was visible. I also didn’t detect any form of print flaw, as the movie always looked clean.

Dukes went with a natural palette, though one that tended toward the slightly subdued side. This matched the rural environment well and gave the film a good look. The colors were accurate and clearly delineated. Blacks seemed deep and firm, while shadows were easy to discern. This was a fine visual presentation.

In addition, The Dukes of Hazzard boasted an appropriately rock-em sock-em Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. With so many explosions and car chases, you’ll feel like you’re right in the middle of the Dukes’ adventures. The various elements popped up in their appropriate spots throughout the movie. It took on a very active feel as the audio moved all around us. Panning was particularly important for this flick given all the vehicles in motion, and these transitioned from speaker to speaker smoothly. The track kicked into gear via all five channels in a terrific way.

No complaints greeted the movie’s audio quality. Speech seemed concise and distinctive, with no problems attached to the lines. Music emphasized rock and a little country. The tunes were lively and bright throughout the film. Effects followed suit and were well reproduced. This was a loud movie, and the elements sounded clean and dynamic. Low-end response appeared tight and impressive. All told, this added up to a strong auditory experience.

To my surprise, the DVD’s supplements don’t include an audio commentary. Director Jay Chandrasekhar has done commentaries for his films with Broken Lizard, so I don’t know why he fails to chat during Dukes.

Instead, we get most of our content from four separate featurettes. We start with Daisy Dukes: The Short Short Shorts. This four-minute and 35-second clip includes movie clips, behind the scenes bits, and interviews with Chandrasekhar, actor Jessica Simpson, costume designer Genevieve Tyrrell, and assistant designer Molly Grundman. We get some actual comments about the selection and construction of the shorts, but they’re some mockery too as the designers pretend to use scientific methods to their madness. Still, there’s lots of Simpson skin on display, so I don’t mind.

The General Lee Lives goes for five mintues and five seconds and includes remarks from Chandrasekhar, stunt driver/stunt coordinator Darrin Prescott, stunt drivers Rhys Millen and Kevin Scott, second unit director Dan Bradley, picture car gang boss Tim Woods and special effects foreman Elia P. Popov. They offer some basic information about the cars used in the film. This doesn’t add up to much, unfortunately, and this ends up as a less than informative piece.

During the four-minute and 45-second How to Launch a Muscle Car 175 Feet in 4 Seconds. we look at stunts with Chandrasekhar, Popov, Prescott, Scott, Bradley, 2nd unit special effects coordinator Marty Breslin, second unit propmaster Peter Muller, visual effects supervisor Jason Piccioni and world record-holding car jumper Mark Hager. They tell us about the challenges related to a big car jump sequence and give us a tight little glimpse of these factors.

Finally, The Hazards of Dukes fills 14 minutes and 48 seconds. It presents notes from Chandrasekhar, Millen, Simpson, Scott, Prescott, producer Bill Gerber, actors Burt Reynolds, Seann William Scott, Johnny Knoxville, MC Gainey, Junior Brown, Ritchie Montgomery and David Koechner. It discusses a few issues like driving and stunts, casting and the actor’s work, the director’s work. A few serious remarks appear, but this is often a wacky look at things. It adds up to become a reasonably interesting and entertaining piece.

We find a Music Video for Jessica Simpson’s version of “There Boots Are Made For Walkin’”. I won’t defend the original Nancy Sinatra take as a classic, or even a good song, for that matter. However, it seems brilliant compared to this disaster. At least the video includes some fine pulchritude.

Two collections of Additional Scenes appear. We get both rated (23 segments, 25 minutes and 28 seconds) and unrated (4, 3:57) snippets. Most of these are fairly short expository bits that fill in a few minor gaps. We get some longer clips like an alternate driving piece from the film’s beginning, and there’s some interesting footage on display. We see a lot more of Lynda Carter, that’s for sure, and we also get an alternate ending.

As for the unrated bits, half of them show alternate takes of the scene in which Bo and Luke walk in on the sorority girls. Another is actually rated: it’s the theatrical version of the bit in which Jesse gets high. Finally, we see another getting stoned piece along with some skin when Luke bags Katie and her Aussie friend. None are very good, but I won’t complain about additional nudity.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we also discover two packages of Bloopers. The rated collection lasts five minutes and four seconds, while the unrated set goes for five minutes, , 33 seconds. Both offer the usual goof-ups and silliness, but the unrated package features more lewdness, profanity and nudity.

At no time will I claim that The Dukes of Hazzard delighted me or even came across as much better than average. That said, it exceeded my modest expectations and created a reasonably entertaining little flick. The DVD presents very good picture and audio but lacks substantial supplements. This might make for a mindlessly amusing rental.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.12 Stars Number of Votes: 50
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