The Dukes Of Hazzard

***1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

If you don't know about the Dukes, you didn't have a telly back then. Like those other iconic relics of hayseed America, The Beverley Hillbillies, Bo and Luke are etched into the memory of impressionable boys, who liked nothing better than crazy danger and cars that did stunts.

And now The Movie. What chance has it in these days of campy pastiche and TV resurrection? Already the screens have welcomed Starsky And Hutch, with a nod and a wink, in no way true to the original. Also, modernised and sophisticated, comes [film]Bewitched[/filim], an odd choice for Nicole's chameleonic talents, slotting magically into rom-com, like a crystalised fruit fly.

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The Dukes Of Hazzard is what-you-see-is-what-you-has. They are truly innocent and that is their charm. Even the actors have a certain inevitability - Johnny Knoxville from Jackass, Seann Michael Scott from American Pie and Annie Simpson from MTV Video Music Awards. The scriptwriters don't even attempt wit - that's Yankee hoo-ha. Instead, they stay downhome and high spirited; some might call it playful, others purty, but never slick-on-a-stick, or polished. This is an affectionate tribute to a wacky series about a Southern family that doesn't take much heed to rules, nor laws of the land. If it's old, it's fashioned, and that's as traditional as Uncle Jessie's (Willie Nelson) moonshine.

Their drug of choice is speed. Bo wins the annual Hazzard Rally, with a beat up jalopy called The General Lee, year in, year out. They don't show off about it and the country folk are (secretly) mighty proud. This year, Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds), "the meanest man in Hazzard County and crooked as a hillbilly's smile", is going to make sure his driver wins. He knows tricks and he knows dirty and when he mixes them, he gets Nasty and that's what the boys are up against.

Bo (Seann) is a cousin of Luke (Johnny) and both are cousins of Daisy (Annie). In the South, families knit tight and no outsider, however rich and fancy, is going to tear them apart. Bo's fearless like a bull calf and Luke is wild as a rodeo, while Daisy can turn a red-blooded male into corn sauce with one of her smiles. Where the film scores high is in its honest-to-goodness. Even the stunts look genuine and there's hardly a hint of CGI and the support cast carries its eccentricity with the ease of well chewed bacca.

The plot may be comicbook and the performances goosy loose, with Reynolds sending himself up something rotten, but its decency shines through and the fun feels genuine.

Reviewed on: 29 Aug 2005
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Luke, Bo and Daisy make big-screen comeback.
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The Remote Viewer ***

Director: Jay Chandrasekhar

Writer: John O'Brien, Jonathan L Davis

Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott, Jessica Simpson, Burt Reynolds, Willie Nelson, Michael Weston, David Koechner, M C Gainey

Year: 2005

Runtime: 106 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US

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