Dukes of Hazzard, The (United States, 2005)

A movie review by James Berardinelli

Since it is not possible to endure The Dukes of Hazzard without finding some other task to occupy one's mind (straight viewing could result in brain damage), I passed the time by re-constructing what might have been the pitch meeting in which Warner Brothers executives green-lighted this project. This is reproduced here in lieu of a review (which would amount to a lot of negative adjectives strung together with phrases like "one of the worst movies of the year" and "makes The Devil's Rejects look a lot more appealing").

Executive #1: We need to find something to get us back on top.

Executive #2: But no one can come up with ideas that will appeal to teenage boys. All of our scripts are highfalutin' things, like the one Clint is directing. What's it called? Million Dollar Man? Wasn't that a Universal TV series?

Executive #1: No, Clint's movie is Million Dollar Baby, and has nothing to do with the TV series. More's the pity. Clint's made a lot of money for us, so we had to let him do it, even though it will sink like a rock. Have you read the script? What a downer. No one's going to see it. But I think you've got something there. Let's do another re-make.

Executive #2: How about a French film? We can change the ending to make it happy.

Executive #1: Nah. Even with the better ending, too arty. Remember: we want teenage boys. We need car crashes, chases, girls in bikinis, that sort of stuff…

Executive #2: What about a '70s TV show? Then we can get some of the dads too, since there will be the nostalgia thing.

Executive #1: Right, right. Make it cheap and it's sure to bring in the bucks. What shows haven't been remade? I think most of them have already been done.

Executive #2: CHiPs. Emergency! Marcus Welby M.D. The Dukes of Hazzard.

Executive #1: CHiPs is perfect, but it's not ours. Neither is Emergency! And how the hell are you going to get car crashes into Marcus Welby? The Dukes of Hazzard is a piece of shit, but that means box office appeal. People love bad TV shows turned into movies.

Executive #2: I have an idea - how about making a movie so excruciatingly unbearable that it will make the TV series look good. That way, when we come out with the Dukes DVDs, people will be clamoring for them.

Executive #1: Brilliant! But we still need to pack enough people into the movie for it to make back its cost on opening weekend, before word gets out. By the Monday after its release, it will smell worse than three-day old fish.

Executive #2: We can hire a screenwriter, although we don't really need a script. Just have him throw something together about a car race and the bad guy, Boss Hogg, buying up land so he can strip-mine it. The Dukes are in the way, so he puts together a nefarious plot to get them out of the way. Then throw in all The Dukes of Hazzard elements. Avoid top-notch talent behind the camera. Hire a virtually unknown director and don't worry about competent editing. No one's going to care if there are continuity problems in the car chases or if nothing makes sense. In fact, why bother? Cut corners everywhere.

Executive #1: Speaking of talent, who do we get to star? The originals are alive, but they're too old. Maybe they could make cameos…

Executive #2: Foggedaboutit. No one will know who they are. Get two B-list guys whose salaries won't break the bank. Johnny Knoxville as Luke Duke (the one with black hair) and Seann William Scott as Bo (the blonde). Ray Ray and Stifler. Neither can act, so they won't upstage the car. And, let's face it - the General Lee makes the movie. Without the car, you don't have anything. During the TV series, half the fan mail was for that car.

Executive #1: What about the girl? The one in the hot pants.

Executive #2: Britney Spears?

Executive #1: No, she's passé. She couldn't open a movie if it came with a zipper. Maybe if we had made this a couple of years ago. When this movie hits theaters, she'll probably be barefoot and pregnant. How about the "Chicken of the Sea" girl? What's her name?

Executive #2: Jessica Simpson.

Executive #1: No, not the chick from the cartoon. The one from the reality show.

Executive #2: Yeah, Jessica Simpson. She can't act. She looks like a life-size Barbie, with an expression to match. Plastic. Like one of those expensive blow-up dolls.

Executive #1: Put her in a bikini and no male under 17 will care whether she can act. Who cares if it doesn't make sense why she's in a bikini. Just get her to undress in every scene. What about the rest of the cast? How about Willie Nelson as the whacked out uncle Jesse. Nelson's long hair and stoned look will be a perfect fit. Just as long as he doesn't sing "On the Road Again."

Executive #2: And Burt Reynolds as Boss Hogg? A throwback to the Smokey and the Bandit days?

Executive #1: Reynolds? Isn't he dead?

Executive #2: Not officially, although his recent films have included a co-starring role opposite a bear and a re-make with Adam Sandler. He probably needs money, so we might be able to get him cheap. If not, we can always try Danny DeVito. He's the right shape.

Executive #1: Reynolds looks better in a white tux. Besides, we've already seen DeVito in a penguin suit!

(Mutual fake laughter.)

Executive #1: Who was the guy who did the title song and the voiceovers? Some old time singer. Engelbert Humperdinck?

Executive #2: Waylon Jennings.

Executive #1: Yeah, that's right. See if he's available. Get him if he's not dead. And if he is dead, get someone who sounds like him. I want that voiceover to be authentic. That's what we're aiming for - authenticity! Realism! Car chases with jumps that make the bus acrobatics in Speed look believable!

Executive #2: When do we release it?

Executive #1: August, of course. We don't want it going against anything that could be construed as a quality film. Jettison it amidst all the other garbage, and people will see it because they recognize the name. The only other choice is February, but action films don't do well at that time of the year. Too many people in the north freezing their asses off. Stupid idiots should all move to L.A.

Executive #2: I think we've got a winner. A dumb script. A director with few credits. A B-list cast. A cheap editor. A really bad movie with enough action scenes to make a trailer that will get kids to the theater during its first weekend, then sell DVDs of the series.

Executive #1: That's the ticket! With luck, this will garner tons of nominations!

Executive #2: Oscars?

Executive #1: No, you moron! Razzies!

Dukes of Hazzard, The (United States, 2005)

Run Time: 1:40
U.S. Release Date: 2005-08-05
MPAA Rating: "PG-13" (Violence, Profanity, Sexual Situations)
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1