THE DUKES OF HAZZARD

PG-13
Reviews

Who could have known that the guilty-pleasure '70s TV series "The Dukes of Hazzard," with its mix of fast, loud cars, beer guzzling and nubile, jiggling, shorty-clad bimbos, would not only foretell, but define the overall male zeitgeist of today's world? And, true to form, Hollywood has, if not exactly rushed, at least moseyed up to this summer's erratic lineup of brain-dead releases with a filmed remake of that very show. It features Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott as those testosterone-crazed cousins, Luke and Bo Duke. Luke likes the ladies, while Seann digs the wheels, personified by his beloved 1969 Dodge Charger, "The General Lee," shamelessly emblazoned with a Confederate flag that elicits both scary affection and downright appalled abuse from all who apprehend it south of the Mason-Dixon.

The plot of this new edition haphazardly concerns itself with the efforts of the cousins, and their more nubile cousin Daisy (Jessica Simpson), a role made famous by Catherine Bach of those shredded tiny denims, to save the family farm from the clutches of the corrupt, mendacious commissioner Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds).

Go if you must, but there's very little real fun or redeeming post-modern irony afoot here. The car-race-filled soundtrack is ear-piercingly loud, the cinematography is fittingly sunny, the editing as slick as a wet mongoose, but without a clever script, this must rank as one of the most hollowly formulaic hot-weather blockbusters ever let out of the can.

Scott remains his usual manic self, as if behaving like a 12-year-old in desperate need of Ritalin is enough to honestly earn laughs. Knoxville has his relaxed, good-ole-boy sensuality and, "Jackass" veteran that he is, takes all kinds of bodily punishment with the kinds of falls and careening into hard surfaces that would challenge any seasoned stuntman. Reynolds, cosmetic-surgically altered to a fare-thee-well, and forever leering, is just plain scary. Willie Nelson, now looking like a very old squaw, brings a faint glimmer of amusement in a small role as the boys' Uncle Jessie.

Meanwhile, La Simpson, in what I suppose could be deemed her breathlessly awaited screen debut, makes Britney Spears in Crossroads seem like Garbo. She's a Barbie doll come to life, but the exact opposite of a real screen goddess, like, say Rita Hayworth. Someone once famously said about Hayworth: "She doesn't have the best eyes, face or body, but it's the way they all hang together that makes her unbeatable." With Simpson, every feature is perfect, but she's like a wind-up automaton, sterilely competent for every occasion, reading her lines like an A+ high-school drama student: I can be sexy, now I can be coy, now I can be a tomboy. That robotic quality is a perfect match for the soullessness of the entire enterprise.
-David Noh