Published Aug 01, 2005No beloved nostalgia for a classic show is safe from Hollywood's greedy paws, and with such a mean losing streak as of late it feels as though every television series being adapted for film is destined to disappoint.
Everyone knows The Dukes of Hazzard was a silly program with some of the most ridiculous characters and plots, and yet it was a lovable guilty pleasure that ran on hillbilly adrenaline and Roscoe's snigger. Of all the classic television shows, it seemed like such an easy film to pull off. Early in its development, rumour had the Wilson brothers (Owen and Luke) as the Cousins Duke, and when that seemed too good to be true producers settled for cute and often hilarious oafs Johnny Knoxville (Luke Duke) and Seann William Scott (Bo Duke) to steer the General Lee.
Though their track records show success, these two actors really don't know how to steer the orange car or their lead roles because Dukes fails from its first moment - delivering some moonshine to a lonely sex kitten. Let's face it, if this film was going to survive it was going to be through either the chemistry of its two stars or the jokes, neither of which ever develops here.
Knoxville may be a star thanks to Jackass but he is simply not an actor - something that he has proven in every film. Scott, on the other hand, is cut out for insolent, frivolous comedy, and yet he fails to cover up his co-star's shortcomings with arguably his worst and least funny performance to date. But hey, the fact that writer John O'Brien (who did a slipshod job with last year's Starsky & Hutch) gives them trivial material to work with can easily be their excuse.
A star-studded supporting cast fares even worse. Jessica Simpson is never given a chance to discover any acting ability, as she's reduced to T&A for the men to gawk at; Burt Reynolds proves way too slim and composed to be a true Hogg; and what's with re-visioning the dim-witted Sheriff Roscoe - the TV series' funniest character - as a dull, strict straight man? Most disappointing of all though has to be casting poor Willie Nelson - a true fit for Uncle Jesse - and feeding him weak "What's the difference between " jokes as his only real dialogue.
Dukes is filled with a number of flaws - repeated failed attempts to bring the boys into the 21st century, Bo's Chia Pet beard, giving Flash the Bassett Hound to Boss Hogg instead of Roscoe, etc. - and while they've managed to perfect the show's patented cliff-hanger freeze frame transitions and present some impressive "car-eography" in the numerous car chases, Chandrasekhar and his Broken Lizard crew have pissed all over the dreams of the Dukes fans out there.
If you're looking for a good time, you're better off searching for the recent gut-wrenching reunion film on CMT with all the original actors, which may be an even worse film, but at least it doesn't come with any expectations. (Warner)