Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Dukes of Hazzard

Yeah, I went to see The Dukes of Hazzard. Got a problem with that? I went to a full-price evening show, too, because I wanted to see it with a good audience. I further went to the trouble to go to the other side of town and see it with a decidedly blue-collar crowd (this would not have been the same movie in the "snooty" cineplex).

I'd already heard the scathing reviews. "Stupid" seemed to be a common term throughout most of them. But I grew up on the "Dukes of Hazzard" television show (part of a stellar Saturday night lineup of Southern intrigue - "Dukes of Hazzard", followed by "Dallas"), and my small-but-spirited sense of Southern pride was dying to see this movie.

First of all, reviewers who called it "stupid" and "trash" weren't just being ornery. It's not great filmmaking, and it's not for everyone. Just to put it in a frame of reference, if you can't enjoy something like, say, Road House (even if the entertainment you get mostly comes from laughing at it), you're going to hate The Dukes of Hazzard. I daresay most people who aren't in or from the South will not "get" this movie, much like that same demographic didn't get the TV show.

But it's a LOT of fun for the right kind of audience. Here are some things that I loved about it.

Seann William Scott. Confession time. I was engaged to John Schneider (Bo Duke) when the original show aired. Yes, I was six at the time and he ended up marrying some other woman. But he was mine. I was wary about Scott playing Bo Duke. He wasn't "pretty" enough, and I couldn't get past the image of him as Stiffler from American Pie. But he's one of the best things about the movie. He made the part his own, and he's so, so funny. And kind of a hottie as well.

Johnny Knoxville. Yum. I don't remember Luke being such a ladies' man in the TV show, though.

Jessica Simpson. I have to say that she's quite good as Daisy. She has a cool, self-deprecating humor and some excellent timing. And she has one of the funniest lines in the movie ("Those two boys are gonna land themselves in jail, and I'm gonna have to shake my ass at somebody to get 'em out.").

Car chases. That's really what the TV show was all about, and there's lots of good chases in the movie. And all the chasing makes for a hilarious scene late in the movie when the General Lee gets stuck in Atlanta traffic.

How the movie handles the non-PC stuff. The General Lee doesn't have the Dixie flag on it at first - it's an amenity Cooter adds when he repairs the car early on. I was wondering if and how it would be dealt with, but I think it's handled just right - with appropriate amounts of humor and sensitivity. Other "Dixie" references (the car horn and someone's ringtone) are simply there, with no attempt to "soft-sell" them. It makes for a good balance, I think, and it doesn't feel like you're being hit over the head with the Obvious Stick.

Willie Nelson singing the theme song. 'Nuff said.

Favorite line. Roscoe to Cooter - "You couldn't fix an election if your brother was the governor." I was one of maybe four people in the room who got that that was a dig at President Bush.

So, yeah, it's a dumb movie. But it knows that it's dumb. It's funny, energetic, and knows when to wink at the audience. I enjoyed myself immensely, and I'm glad I went to see it. And frankly, if you're looking for style, substance, and intelligence from a movie called "The Dukes of Hazzard", you probably need to take a step back and look at your futility issues.


Kat Coble said...

I probably will wait to TiVo this off cable.

Still, "Road House" rules. There is no better 'bad' movie than Road House.

tom said...

I adored the dukes. I really liked them as a kid, even though I was living in Indiana. I will probably see it the next time I rack up a free movie at the video store.

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