Where does Dukes of Hazzard fall on the spectrum of TV show adaptations? Somewhere in the middle, which came as a surprise. I expected a stupid flick with no entertainment value, but I got a stupid flick with more than a few glimmers of amusement. The film’s plot borders on irrelevant, but I’ll recap it anyway. The flick focuses on the adventures of cousins Bo (Seann William Scott) and Luke (Johnny Knoxville) Duke. They deliver moonshine for their Uncle Jesse (Willie Nelson), and Bo also succeeds as a local ra…e driver. He looks forward to his fifth consecutive victory in the annual Hazzard County road race. However, an obstacle arrives when former four-time champion – and now pro driver – Billy Prickett (James Roday) returns to compete.
It turns out he’s there to create a diversion for local mogul Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds). Hogg frames the Dukes to take over their land, and they learn that he’s done the same to claim other connected properties. With the aid of their sexy cousin Daisy (Jessica Simpson) and others, Bo and Luke attempt to find out Hogg’s plan and stop it. Along the way, they try to avoid law enforcement authorities and score with some babes – oh, and Bo still wants to win that race.
When I heard about this adaptation of Dukes of Hazzard, I figured it boasted roughly a two percent chance it wouldn’t suck. The project had terrible written all over it. The film looked like nothing more than lowest common denominator and yet another attempt to recycle a popular name for some quick bucks. In truth, I must admit the movie pleasantly surprised me – to a degree. At no point does Dukes of Hazzard threaten to become a good film. However, at no point does it ever scrape the bottom of the barrel that I expected it to.
Dukes of Hazzard both embraces and mocks its heritage. The flick certainly digs self-referential humor, and it enjoys its attempts to bring the rednecks into the 21st century. I don’t think the TV series boasted much ironic self-awareness of the world at large, but the movie has that in spades. The flick also enjoys poking fun at itself and at its predecessor. One running gag revolves around the fact that everyone has to get into the General Lee via the windows. The movie doesn’t let this pass without comment, as it turns this into a joke.
I don’t know how well this sense of ironic detachment will sit with fans of the series. The movie spends about 30 percent of its time in an embrace of the TV show’s goofy stupidity. We get plenty of car chases and shouts of “yee-haw” uttered without much mockery. It’s the other 70 percent of Dukes of Hazzard that might rile the fans. Honestly, I barely remember watching the series; I know I did, but I maintain extremely little recollection of it. A straight remake of the show would bore me, but the movie Dukes of Hazzard added just enough wit and spark to make it watchable.
Dukes of Hazzard is presented in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. For a movie that hit the screens only four months before its DVD debut, I expect a solid transfer, and that’s what I got. Sharpness looked terrific. No instances of softness ever crept into the image. Instead, it always appeared tight and well-defined and only a smidgen of edge enhancement was visible. I also didn’t detect any form of print flaw, as the movie always looked clean. Dukes of Hazzard went with a natural palette, though one that tended toward the slightly subdued side. This matched the rural environment well and gave the film a good look. The colors were accurate and clearly delineated. This was a fine visual presentation.
Considering a movie of this nature, with all of its loud rockin’ car chases, you would expect the Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio Track to be excellent right? Well, coming out of the movie I was extremely disappointed. Even though the track is very loud and very clear, it seems to be very limited in overall response especially in relevance to the bass and treble. Even though the dialogue comes off above-average, the booming of the speakers puts the audio presentation on a rather sour note. If not for the bass sounding too loud in some scenes and too low in other scenes, this would have been a perfect Audio/Visual Disc.
For a movie of its popularity, I was shocked at the lack of a director’s commentary here.
- Daisy Dukes: The Short Short Shorts (4:35): This feature includes movie clips, behinds the scenes bits, and interviews with director Chandrasekhar, actor Jessica Simpson, costume designer Genevieve Tyrell, and assistant designer Molly Grundman. We get some brief comments about the selection and construction of the shorts, but there is definitely some mockery occurring with all of the designers pretending that there was some scientific method to the creation of the shorts. Decent watch if you like to look at Jessica Simpson.
- The General Lee Lives (5:05): This feature offers basic comments about the different types of cars used in the film, which results in the feature not really adding up to much.
- How to Launch a Muscle Car 175 Feet in 4 Seconds (4:45): This feature offers a look at the overall challenges the crew met in relation to the big car jump sequence with a brief look at the big factors.
- The Hazards of Duke (14:48): This feature presents us with notes from many of the actors and producers. It discusses some of the car stunts, casting decisions and the director’s overall work. A few serious comments occur, but a majority of the feature is pretty funny and wacky which results in an interesting and entertaining feature.
- Music Video: Here we get the music video for the Jessica Simpson song “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’. Compared to the Nancy Sinatra original, this song is an absolute disaster. The only plus to this song is the music video which features a lot Simpson performing.
- Additional Scenes: Here we get both rated (25 scenes totaling 25:28) and unrated (4 scenes totaling 3:57) snippets. Most of the scenes are pretty short and don’t need further explanation after watching them. A somewhat plus is the addition of an alternate driving piece from the beginning of the film and an alternate ending. As for the unrated scenes, there is a scene featuring Bo and Luke walking in on the sorority girls and a scene featuring some drug use and a scene with Luke bagging Katie and her friend. Unfortunately, none of the extra scenes do anything for the film.
- Trailer and Bloopers: Here get a rated blooper (5:04) and an unrated blooper (5:33). Both offer the typical goof-ups one would expect on a movie set, but with more lewdness on the unrated part.
There will never be one instance where I will defend The Dukes of Hazzard as being a good film. However, I can say that it did exceed my low expectations for the film and had me having a modestly good time. The DVD Version presents exceptional picture and pretty good audio but lacks a lot of the features one comes to expect from a blockbuster film. Because of this, I can barely offer up this for an evening rental.
Special Features List
- Two sets of additional scenes: unrated and “PG-13”
- Featurettes include: Daisy Dukes: The Short Short Shorts (Learn how they made the shorts so short and how to make your own); The General Lee Lives (A close look at the beloved car); How to Launch a Muscle Car 175 feet in 4 Seconds (How they pulled off suc
- Two gag reels: unrated and “PG-13”
- Jessica Simpson’s “These Boots are Made for Walking” music video
- The Hazards of Dukes: Behind-the-scenes look