Dukes of Hazzard (2005) — Well this car aged poorly, didn’t it?

“I’m never getting’ out of this car again! I’m gonna eat in it, I’m gonna sleep in it, and I’m gonna make sweet love to it!”

Kyle’s rating: “Whoa, black betty (bam-ba-lam) / Whoa, black betty (bam-ba-lam)”

Kyle’s review: I had such an amazingly entertaining time with The Dukes of Hazzard that I was seriously thinking no one else had actually seen it and was just trashing it on principle or something stupid like that. I mean, it’s wasn’t the greatest, but it was clean, dumb fun. What was everybody’s problem?

Then my friend Chance, whose sparkling recommendation (“Dude, if you know what you’re walking into, it’s not that bad and it’s pretty fun.”) got me into the theater, pointed out something important: I had been drinking most of the day (since noon!) before I bought my ticket, and I continued the heavy drinking almost immediately upon leaving the theater and kept it up well into the morning (I think I stumbled through my door at 3:30 a.m.). I don’t mention this to brag. I mention this to say: hey, I think Dukes of Hazzard is a fun movie, but the day I saw it was a day I drank more alcohol than I drank my entire second senior year of college. And I drank a lot my second senior year in college (god bless rich friends willing to buy every round). So keep that in mind, yeah?

Of course, I refer to Dukes of Hazard as a “film” much as I refer to Sorority Boys as a film. That is, I say “film” and make quote marks in the air with my fingers as I roll my eyes and make it clear that it is technically to be properly classified as a film because it was meant to be projected onto a big screen at movie theaters. I’m deadly serious when I say it’s clean dumb fun. Don’t tell your professors that you saw it, if you catch my drift.

Dukes of Hazzard is pretty much one of those movies that just sounded like a bad idea from conception to completion. A remake? Of a television show that wasn’t considered very intelligent or deep by anyone other than our current President? Starring a bunch of idiots and a literal jackass? And what is Jessica Simpson doing? Covering “These Boots Are Made for Walking” and doing a video showing off her curvy body? Sure, some of that sounds fun, but why would anyone do this?

Well, the final product won’t do much to distinguish itself from the made-for-television junk or crappy movies that tanked at the box office and get picked up for endless late-night reruns on content-hungry cable channels. Willie Nelson, Burt Reynolds, Lynda Carter, and Joe Don Baker are pretty much wasted. I can see how they were meant to be humorous (where’s the Carter/Nelson muffin flirting from the trailer? It wasn’t that bad) but all their stuff falls pretty flat. They should have saved money and cast unknowns and blown all that money on more stunts instead.

Because the stunts are cool as they are, but you’ve pretty much seen them all. There are a few fancy bits of driving in the city and backwoods that are slightly impressive, but all the big “yee haw” jumps and mouth-agape “oh my god” other jumps were all over the trailers. So if you’re looking exclusively for big car jumps and whatnot, stay away: you’ve seen all the big guns this film has to offer. The General Lee is certainly a great car and you’ll walk out thinking “I want one of those!” But unless you’re a crazy car enthusiast or something like that, that angle won’t really blow your mind. I’m not a car guy, though I will say that if I could have any dream car but for some reason I couldn’t get a Tumbler (go Batman Begins go) I would settle for a General Lee. Preferably without the confederate flag on top (they deal with that briefly, and it’s amusing, so nice job).

Ultimately, though, it all boils down to those titular Dukes, particular Bo and Luke. And without getting into man crushes or anything like that, I can say that Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville saved the movie, at least for me. It’s that usual thing where they were clearly having fun and the movie allowed them to play themselves (or versions of themselves that match how we think they probably are, which is masochistic girl-crazy zany indestructible easy-going dudes), so if you like them you’ll probably like the movie. It was probably too bad we couldn’t just stay with these guys more, or stay with these guys in more interesting situations that would allow them to be funny and charming, because they were the strength of the film. I wouldn’t vote for either of them for governor of California (but don’t hold me to that) but for the heroes of a summer cinematic romp, they’re great.

Now, you either like Jessica Simpson or you don’t. The row of teenage boys to my left didn’t express their thoughts on her music or personality, but they sure loved her body. And her body is on display quite a bit, though not as fully as many would like (give it a few years, people). I don’t know if I’m getting old or if Simpson just doesn’t light my fire like others do (go Scarlett and Rachel go), but I appreciated Simpson here like I appreciate art and museum exhibits that I don’t especially like much: I knew they weren’t going to linger in my memory once I left, but I certainly had the physiological reaction (in my pants) that I knew I should, so that I knew my libido and health were still intact. Thanks, Jessica! And nice work delivering the self-aware line early in the film that sums up the meaning of your entire role; combined with your reaction later when your attempt at drawing away the roadblock cops fails for an obvious reason, it’s almost like you really are an “actor.” Wow!

So yeah: both the General Lee and the Jessica Simpson have incredible bodies to be admired (I wonder if car freaks get more turned on by the car than the girl) and the cast other than Scott and Knoxville is lame. But so what? It’s just a bit of gloss and profanity above a made-for-tv film, but know what you’re getting and you might have fun. I never thought in April or May that ultimately I’d rather rewatch Dukes of Hazzard than the expensive-looking-but-dumb-in-a-bad-way The Island, but that’s how it goes. But buy me enough drinks, and I just might be up for a double feature. Who knows? And if nothing else, Dukes will provide you with plenty of reasons to never cross that Mason-Dixon line or go anywhere where moonshine is a viable drink for sitting on the porch. Stay in the city, people!

One comment

  1. “They should have saved money and cast unknowns and blown all that money on more stunts instead.”

    Absolutely correct. Especially when they had the Jackass star who would be up for anything.

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