JUST the good ol’ boys, never meanin’ no harm. These words from the theme tune to the legendary late-70s/early-80s TV show The Dukes of Hazzard pretty much sums up its premise, and this 2005 movie adaptation brings a fresh spin to the iconic show – unlike some less-than-successful ‘reunion’ flicks with the original cast.
In fictional Hazzard County, Georgia, cousins Bo and Luke Duke (Scott and Knoxville, respectively), are ripping through life one sideways corner at a time, running moonshine for their uncle Jesse (Nelson) and sweetcheeked cousin Daisy (Simpson).
Bo dreams of becoming a big name on the national stock car circuit in his beloved 1969 Dodge Charger, The General Lee, following in the footsteps of fellow local-boy-made-good, Billy Prickett (Roday).
Prickett is in town as a drawcard for the Hazzard County Road Rally, which Bo is hoping to win for his fifth consecutive year. But Prickett’s appearance is actually a paid distraction for the Hazzard townsfolk while crooked local commissioner, JD ‘Boss’ Hogg (Mr Bandit himself, Burt Reynolds), gets up to his usual money-fuelled mischief. He seizes a number of Hazzard properties – including the Dukes’ farm – under the guise of illegal moonshine production, with fake stills planted by his right-hand man, Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane (Gainey).
But Boss has bigger plans. The Dukes uncover a number of soil samples that reveal that the Hazzard County earth is mineral-rich and Hogg wants to stripmine their beloved hometown.
Assisted by a motley bunch of locals – their best friend and whiz mechanic Cooter (Koechner); the nutty Sheev (Heffernan); wholesome Pauline (Wonder Woman’s Lynda Carter); naďve Deputy Enos (Weston); Luke’s secret squeeze Katie (Griffin) and her Aussie sorority sister Annette (Maxwell) – the Dukes hatch a plan to beat Boss at his own game.
The car action comes thick and fast, and this movie adaptation is a little naughtier than the original series – which works. However, as a Dukes series tragic, for me there were a couple of elements that soured this flick a little: Junior Brown as The Balladeer just didn’t have the depth of voice of the original Waylon Jennings, which softened the impact of this narrative role, while Gainey as Sheriff Rosco needed far less ‘evil’ in his character and more ‘dipstick’.
THE original Dukes was a harmless family show that shaped the lives of thousands of Gen-X car fans and made the Dodge Charger one of the world’s most iconic star cars. The film adaptation is fast-paced, fun and full of action, and the production team nicely managed to transfer a then-25-year-old television series to the big screen. It works as a standalone flick too, although throwbacks to some now-shunned elements of the original show (the highway sledging of The General’s rebel roof flag is a classic example) may be lost on younger viewers – a sad reflection of our highly strung modern society. But at the end of the day this movie all about the three Ss: Stunts, Soundtrack and Simpson.
VEHICLES: 1969 Dodge Charger, 1967 Ford Mustang, 1971 Ford LTD, 1983 GMC C3500, 2004 Jeep Wrangler, 1976 Cadillac Eldorado, 1971 Chevrolet Camaro, 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1977 Chevrolet Corvette, 1967 Dodge Coronet, 1991 Dodge Ram, 1999 Ford Crown Victoria, 1973 Ford Gran Torino, 1972 Plymouth Road Runner, 1979 Pontiac Firebird
STARS: The General Lee, Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott, Jessica Simpson, Willie Nelson, Burt Reynolds, Lynda Carter, Kevin Heffernan, Michael Weston, James Roday, MC Gainey, David Koechner, Nikki Griffin, Jacqui Maxwell, Junior Brown
DIRECTOR: Jay Chandrasekhar
ACTION: You name it, Dukes has it: jumps, drifting, powerslides, burnouts, car chases and races – and it’s all awesome!
PLOT: Two country cousins fight to save their uncle’s farm from being illegally seized, taking on the might of the local crooked commissioner Boss Hogg
AVAILABLE: DVD, YouTube, internet download