There’s a moment in this latest ramshackle rehash of a ‘vintage’ TV show when our heroes are baffled. While driving into Atlanta, Bo and Luke Duke (Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville) – those good old boys raised on moonshine, hood-sliding, bar brawls and short shorts – receive apparently random cheers and jeers from fellow freeway users; turns out they’ve got a giant Confederate flag painted on the roof of their car. It’s a moment ripe for the sort of ironic recontextualisation that made an unexpected gem of ‘The Brady Bunch Movie’ (1995) – an invitation to bounce the inflammatory potential of the Dukes’ unreconstructed Southern pride off against contemporary sensitivity to the region’s thorny legacy. Instead the film gives us bashful dodges (the boys’ mechanic sidekick painted the flag without their knowledge) and scenes in which the Dukes pose as Japanese scientists and appear in blackface. Whether you find all this inane or offensive will probably depend on whether you buy the Dukes’ defence of ‘never meaning no harm’; either way it’s pretty hard going. Knoxville’s diffidence and Scott’s mildly perverted puppy-dog goofing make an amiable enough match but one that offers lashings of affection-through-pain instead of actual laughs; meanwhile Jessica Simpson’s cousin Daisy is one of those ‘strong’ Hollywood women whose strength derives from exploiting her own sexuality. The plot – revolving around Burt Reynolds’ Boss Hogg, who considerately spells out his plans to strip-mine Hazzard County – is laughably perfunctory too, though plenty of attention has gone into some very nifty car chases. The gist seems to be: ‘don’t sweat the small stuff, like tact, wit or imagination – let’s have fun!’ Which would be okay, if it were.
The Dukes of Hazzard
|Release date:||Wednesday August 24 2005|
Cast and crew
|Cast:||Seann William Scott
Joe Don Baker