Preserving Southern Isolation
TV show-based movie keeps its foot in its mouth
August 04, 2005
It's wretched to think that the
Dukes Of Hazzard
television show lasted from 1979 to 1985 and even sadder to see that Hollywood has seen fit to package the stupidity-flaunting storyline into yet another 2005 summer bummer feature. With an anachronistic confederate flag emblazoned on the roof of "General Lee," their 1969 Dodge Charger, cousins Bo (Seann William Scott) and Luke (Johnny Knoxville) displace their concerns for smuggling moonshine to saving Hazzard, Georgia from being turned into a coal mine by corrupt
commissioner Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds).
Forget that the notoriously red southern states couldn't care less about ecological conservation because this movie allows its southern dimwitted stereotypes to have their cake and eat it too. A plethora of southern rock music from the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Charlie Daniels Band and Molly Hatchet stinks up this already rancid piece of cinematic codswallop.
Johnny Knoxville (
) and Seann William Scott (
) carry out their typecast goofball misfit roles with a decidedly Yankee attitude that never translates into the southern mentality of their shout-a-lot characters. As such, Knoxville and Scott mock their characters' southern archetypes with a masochistic glee that's as uncomfortable to watch as the repetitive car chase scenes between the uneducated cops and the "good ole boys."
There isn't a story in the movie so much as repeated sequences of riffing humor that aren't funny on the first or even ninth time you see it. Jessica Simpson provides a distinctly celibate air of sexuality as Bo Duke's bodacious sister Daisy. Daisy persistently shakes her barely clad bum and mannequin-like cleavage in the faces of law officers to extricate Bo and Luke from incarceration.
So it's oddly satisfying when a butch female officer shuts down Daisy's patronizing bump and grind act late in the movie. Although we don't get a reaction shot of Daisy's face, there's sufficient subtext to the scene to infer that the tough talking woman cop is just what Daisy requires to unbridle her counterintuitive passions.
There are two derailing sequences that push the bluntly comic narrative into a territory of anti-confederate hatred that puts the good ole boys in a position of ignorant victims. When Bo and Luke drive to Atlanta to get soil samples identified at a university there, vehemently angry citizens confront the boys about the fascist imagery of the confederate flag that adorns the top of their car.
Though the boys were not responsible for their mechanic's decision to put the flag on the car, they take the brunt of verbal abuse from fellow drivers who berate them for the image.
This confrontational urban animosity against the image, and consequently Bo and Luke, is allowed to reach a fever pitch when they drive through a black neighborhood after engaging in buffoonery that's left their faces covered in black soot. A group of young black
men set about delivering the kind of ass kicking you'd expect under the circumstances.
Director Jay Chandrasekhar (
) interrupts the potential violence with a silly voice-over narration about the boys being up shit creek without a paddle or a canoe before a police car ironically intervenes. The canny subtext of the scenes is that racism is still allowed in the rural south but not accepted in its urban areas.
The Dukes Of Hazzard
is a movie that makes you feel unclean. Willie Nelson presents the only likable character in the movie as the boys' Uncle Jesse. Nelson's singular service to the script is to interject as many one-two punchline jokes into his scenes as possible.
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