These ‘Dukes’ could be hazardous to your mental health
Is it dumb? Well, duh. Is the acting any good? No Oscar rumors if that’s what you mean. Lots of car chases? That’s the point, ain’t it? How about that Jessica Simpson? Typecast as a dumb blonde who strips to next to nuthin’ to cause rednecks to drool and do whatever she wants. So, if you loved the early ’80s era TV show this film is based on, you’ll love the movie, right?
Not so fast, partner. It helps if you’re inclined to think the “Jerry Springer Show” is great entertainment.
It’s not that “The Dukes of Hazzard” aims low in its comic trashiness — it understands its target market and plans to give unsophisticated filmgoers what they came to see. But not so surprisingly, the majority of the film’s unforced laughs are generated not by limited range stars Johnny Knoxville (MTV’s “Jackass”) and Seann William Scott (“American Wedding”). Rather, supporting players David Koechner (“Anchorman”) as Cooder the mechanic and Kevin Heffernan as Sheev the armadillo-hat wearing, pants deprived, safe demolisher earn the film one star each.
Much of “Hazzard” would be forgivable if it had retained some of the down-home goodness and the lighthearted tone of the TV series that its director, Jay Chandrasekhar (“Super Troopers”) and production staff had promised. Instead, the big screen update avails itself of its PG-13 liberties and comes stuffed with a barnful of profanity and enough marijuana references to satisfy even the most stoned out Cheech and Chong fan.
Yet there was the audience — including many children — whooping and a hollering as corn pone cousins Bo and Luke (Scott and Knoxville) race around in their 1969 orange Dodge Charger escaping the law and uncovering the devious strip mine plan of corrupt commissioner Boss Hogg (an along-for-the-ride, coasting, Burt Reynolds).
Surely there is more to great comedy than bar fights, running from the law, and a soundtrack filled with Molly Hatchet and AC/DC. But “The Dukes of Hazzard” isn’t bad because it’s dumb any more than “The Hours” (perhaps the worst Oscar-nominated film ever) was good because it was intelligent. Once upon a time, Adam Sandler made dumb movies like this and we thought he could act. Now we know better. Pay attention Johnny, Seann and Jessica.
Rated PG-13 for scenes of comic violence, crude and sexually suggestive humor, occasional use of strong profanity, drug content, brief sexual contact and some brief partial male nudity.