Thursday, May 25, 2006

Now Playing: The Dukes of Hazzard

I have only the fondest of memories about the old show as does any male who grew up in the early '80's. I recall my tin trash can with the General Lee flying through the air while Boss Hogg shouted after the Duke cousins for foiling his latest scheme. I'm sure somewhere on the can Roscoe P. Coltrane was shaking a fist at the sky.

But on the back was none other than Daisy, Goddess of the Short Shorts. Catherine Bach could lay a young boy out cold with a glance, or cause him to spontaneously combust by bending over. It was the simple pleasures the show reveled in, none more obvious than using an orange Dodge Charger to defy gravity at least once every episode. It was never the smartest show, but it was entertaining for 5 to 12 year olds everywhere.

Which is exactly who Warner Bros. aimed the film version at and they managed to bullseye their target. I'm a big fan of Broken Lizard, especially their horror knock-off Club Dredd, so their involvement in the film meant I had to at least check it out. Color me surprised because it wasn't a disaster by a long shot because in spite of Stiffler and Jackass living up to thier eternal namesakes, they captured the soul of the show.

It remains silly, simple fun and stars an orange Dodge Charger that defies gravity. In the special features the stunt coordinator even says as much when he explains the show was "All about the car!" What cracked me up even more was how the majority of stunt people involved in the shoot were among the heavy hitters in Hollywood. They had the stunt doubles for all the major A-list action stars, as well as the creme de la creme of professional stunt drivers were all involved and for one simple reason.

An unabashed love of that car. Which takes center stage about three quarters of the way through and from that point on I was in Hogg heaven. It's obvious that every person on screen was too because the ways they use the car are magnificent. From the moment when they try to leave the University of Georgia on through the end that car is the star and it shines as only the General Lee could.

Up to that point you have Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott relentlessly mugging, while Jessica Simpson has exactly one good scene (you'll know it when your jaw hits the ground and your tongue rolls out). The actual acting is left to Burt Reynolds (Boss Hogg) who obviously doesn't care what film he's in, and the great MC Gainey (Roscoe) who laughs maniacally while never coming off as dangerous. It ends up being nothing more than a silly story about another land grab attempt by Hogg and the Dukes have to win a race in order to stop him. It's as silly as it sounds, and exactly like the show.

What sold it for me was how they used the narrator, the way they used the car, and the blatant silliness of Broken Lizard star Kevin Heffernen who's hysterically funny in this. It's enjoyable, silly fun and worth at least a Netflixing.

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