Hot on the heels of Stealth, which I called the most unwatchable film I’ve seen in 2005, comes another contender for that title. Based on the 80’s tv show of the same name, The Dukes of Hazzard is an anachronism on wheels.
Bo (Seann William Scott) and Luke (Johnny Knoxville) Duke are cousins, growing up in quiet old Hazzard County, making a living delivering the moonshine brewed by their Uncle Jessie (Willie Nelson). Their other cousin, Daisy (Jessica Simpson at her most undressed), makes up the remainder of this clan of underachieving nobodies. Oh, and The General Lee, the icon from the original series reborn, the late 60’s Dodge Charger painted bright red, featuring doors that don’t open and an ability to land almost any ridiculous jump conceived of as a way to relieve our intense boredom.
The scenarios haven’t changed, the characters haven’t changed, and according to this film The South hasn’t changed. What presumably was thought would be reassuring is in fact horrifying – is this where modern culture is today? Is this what passes for entertainment over 25 years after the tv show premiered?
Seann William Scott displays none of the charm of many of his other roles, and Johnny Knoxville seems almost a blank slate. Giving nothing of himself, he is a shadow of a character, a blur on the screen. Simpson as Daisy comes off only as cheap, and who knows why Nelson agreed to demean himself in this appalling film? One can only hope he was paid an astronomical amount of money to do so.
For much of this film the audience around me was laughing out loud – and not in a good way. Much of what was set up as humour was dreadfully flat, and the remainder, presumably intended not to amuse, was hilariously bad. Embarassingly bad is perhaps more apt – there were several moments of intense discomfort as I endured the antics of these ‘characters’.
With barely anything remotely approaching entertainment, and much that is borderline – and occasionally frankly – offensive, The Dukes of Hazzard is an embarassment to everyone involved. That it was made at all is an indictment on Hollywood and how it predicts and measures success.Rating: