Set in present day, the story follows the adventures of “good old boy” cousins, Bo and Luke Duke, who with the help of their eye-catching cousin Daisy and moonshine running Uncle Jesse, try and save the family farm from being destroyed by Hazzard County’s corrupt commissioner Boss Hogg. 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.
Considering the whole socio-political climate of the past few months as of this writing, I figured now would be a good time to get a review of the Dukes Of Hazzard movie out of the way. Yeah, I’ve been avoiding having to write this, for reasons that will be explained in a bit. Now, though, considering that the television show that the movie is based on has been labeled as persona non grata due to backlash from an actual serious incident, I figured it’s high time I get this one out of my head and onto the virtual page.
Mind you, I’m not going to be using this review as a sounding board for my thoughts about the recent wackiness that I shall not speak of right now. You know what I’m talking about. And if not, count yourselves among the blessed. No, I’m just going to go off about this movie alone. In which case, let me get this out of the way:
I grew up watching the original broadcast episodes of The Dukes Of Hazzard. Every Friday, I would plop down with my family to watch the recent hijinks of the two good ol’ boys mentioned in the classic theme song, usually involving foiling some grandiose scheme of Boss Hogg’s, getting chased around in the General Lee by one Rosco P. Coltrane and his myriad of catch phrases, sometimes accompanied by the lovable Deputy Enos, with the rest of the Duke family and friends ending things up at the Boar’s Nest to down a few and listen to whatever 80s country superstar was caught in Sheriff Coltrane’s speed trap play live.
What I’m trying to say is, I have very, very fond memories of this show. It still remains a guilty pleasure of mine that I don’t mind admitting to love. I even bought the download of the theme song by Waylon Jennings not too long ago, just because. And I’m a freaking \,,/METALHEAD\,,/, for crying out loud. I am still a fan. Which is why watching this big-screen adaptation of the show not only kicked me hard and square in the childhood, but also pointed and laughed as I was doubled over in a fetal position.
The reason why I watched this movie was because I was watching my sister and brother-in-law’s place back in…I think it was 2007 or so, and in a fit of boredom I popped it in, thinking “how bad could it be?” Well…let me tell you something. Whoever wrote this had no grasp of the charm that was the source material. It’s almost like someone heard this used to be a thing on television, read over the Wikipedia page, and thought, “How can we make this for the hip Jackass-watching demographic?” And so they brought in the very guy from the Jackass series and that Stifler guy from the American Pie movies to play Luke and Bo Duke, respectively. Then they got Jessica Simpson, hot off of her fourteenth minute of her fifteen minutes of fame, to play Daisy Duke. And not to leave out the older crowd, they got Willie Nelson to play Uncle Jesse, and Burt Reynolds to play Boss Hogg. Only, Willie plays Uncle Jesse as a somewhat perverted old hippie stoner, rather than the sage father figure everyone remembers him as being, which is completely off-putting. And Burt Reynolds as Boss Jefferson Davis “J. D.” Hogg…well, actually he was about the only really good portrayal in the movie. Bit more serious, and not as portly as I would have liked, but how can you go wrong with Burt? Answer: You can’t.
There were some points that I did kind of like about the movie, like how the General Lee got its classic look…with one point of it being used as an attempt at a fish-out-of-water joke that falls flat later on. And the soundtrack is great. But overall, I have to say that I don’t hate The Dukes Of Hazzard movie…I’m just rather disappointed in it. Was my enjoyment of the movie tainted by nostalgia glasses? Maybe. I’m not gonna rule that out. But, really, even if this was just a stand-alone movie with no ties whatsoever with the show…or even being a remake of the movie Moonshiners (that’s the movie The Dukes Of Hazzard is loosely based on) I really don’t think it stands up very well.