It’s not fair to say that THE DUKES OF HAZZARD is the worst movie I’ve ever seen. I haven’t seen every movie ever made. But it’s definitely a contender. Based on the television series of the same name, it’s a convoluted series of car chases, car crashes, and lingering shots of Jessica Simpson’s cleavage all punctuated by bits and pieces of a bad plot and worse dialogue. Perhaps the filmmakers were pandering to the demographic that is content to sit and watch chases, crashes, and cleavage with minimal distraction, if so, they’ve nailed it. Why they wasted time commissioning a script is a question that can’t help but crop up. Perhaps there is a rule of some sort.
Reprising the plot line of pretty much every episode of the series, Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds), the meanest man in Hazzard County, Ga., is hatching a nefarious scheme forcing cousins, Bo (Seann William Scott) and Luke (Johnny Knoxville) Duke to take time out from running their Uncle Jessie’s moonshine in order to stop him. There’s a race (legal), and a land grab (of questionably legality), and every cliché about southern hicks that could be thrown in during the time not allotted to the car chases and Ms Simpson’s assets. The armadillo helmet was a new one for me, but, alas, the novelty didn’t make it funny.
These Duke boys love their car, an orange custom job named General Lee that sports a politically incorrect Confederate flag on its roof. Their love for the car doesn’t stop them from trashing it every five minutes or so, but it does inspire Bo to tell Luke that he’d like to make love to it. “You mean make love in it, don’t you?” Luke replies incredulously. No, Bo continues, he meant carnal knowledge of the vehicle itself. Maybe it’s a guy thing, but even Bo wasn’t down with that one. And that’s about it for the sort of comedy favored in this clunker.
One might speculate that a script was needed to give the cast something to do when not driving fast or showing skin. It was another in a series of very bad artistic decisions that ultimately rendered the flick into the cinematic equivalent of road kill, only less appetizing. Williams whoops, Knoxville leers, Simpson, as (and wearing) Daisy Duke(s), recites her lines as though English were a language with which she is completely unfamiliar, and Burt Reynolds stumbles through the proceedings as though still groggy from a nap. Willie Nelson, as Uncle Jessie, comes through relatively unscathed, smiling his way through like a Cheshire Cat and seemingly oblivious to what is going on around him. None of the original television cast appears and more power to them for that judgment call. Lynda Carter, however, does, though not as Wonder Woman.
As I waited an eternity for this to end, I found myself wondering why the studio decided to have a press screening for this. Was there anyone there who thought this might get a good review? Wouldn’t it have been prudent to try to get at least a first-day crack at recouping their loss before word got out that this was sure thing as far as the Golden Raspberry Award next year? Let me put it this way. THE DUKES OF HAZZSARD makes “Hee Haw” look like Sophocles.