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Warner Home Video presents
The Dukes of Hazzard HD-DVD (2005)

"I am officially upgrading the Dukes from flies in my ointment to thorns in my side."
- Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: August 07, 2006

Stars: Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott, Jessica Simpson
Other Stars: Burt Reynolds, Joe Don Baker, Lynda Carter, Willie Nelson
Director: Jay Chandrasekhar

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, violence, nudity, drug use)
Run Time: 01h:47m:14s
Release Date: July 11, 2006
UPC: 012569809284
Genre: action comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C- D+A-A- A

DVD Review

One could start off this review saying that this is another 2000s movie desecrating a television favorite from the 1970s, but I never much cared for the original series in the first place. But what that show did have was an earnest sense of fun and down-home humor; those merits have instead been replaced by a good deal of noise and unpleasantness on every side.

The story's setup is pretty familiar, though. Cousins Bo and Luke Duke (Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville, respectively) like to run moonshine for their Uncle Jesse (Willie Nelson) in rural Hazzard County, Georgia in their orange '69 Charger, the General Lee. They like the ladies too, but they're always running afoul of Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds) and his henchmen, Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (M.C. Gainey) and Deputy Enos (Michael Weston). Cousin Daisy Duke (Jessica Simpson) is always on hand to use her charms to get the boys out of trouble. This time out, Boss Hogg engineers for a still to be found by Rosco in Uncle Jesse's barn, enabling him to seize the farm. Bo and Luke discover that he's been doing the same thing to several neighboring farms and is clearly up to something, but what? Meanwhile, Hogg is also sponsoring race car driver Billy Prickett (James Roday) in the Hazzard County Road Rally against the Duke boys. Endless car chases and crashes ensue.

The whole enterprise just feels too far off from the original concept. The theme song talks about "good ole boys, never meaning no harm," but most of the characters have been made revolting and in fact do mean harm. That's apparent right off the bat when Scott makes it known with wild eyes that he's going to be playing Bo Duke as a complete sociopath. Luke doesn't come off much better, going from a heartthrob into the extreme of promiscuity. Jessica Simpson discards the down-home sensuality of Catherine Bach in favor of big-city anorexic skankiness, and Uncle Jesse is a depraved old reprobate pothead who just lets loose with endless strings of foul one-liners. The villains aren't quite the same either; instead of their incompetent evil, they're really threatening here, without the redeeming qualities of being goofballs. Only Lynda Carter, in a tiny role as Pauline, comes off as fairly inoffensive. It's almost as if the filmmakers decided to make the most perverse version of the story possible, offending whatever fans the old series might have had.

It's certainly worthwhile to reenvision such programs for feature films; The Brady Bunch Movie successfully created humor by keeping the characters' 1960s sensibility intact while shifting them into the modern world. But this version makes pretty much everything modern, beyond the age of the car and the Southern-fried rock on the soundtrack. The updating doesn't work very well at all, except during the sequence when the Duke boys head into Atlanta and the Confederate flag atop the car evokes wildly varying responses both embracing and condemning the implicit racism and treason behind the flag. But the Dukes remain utterly clueless, shrugging off the opportunity to make something more out of this anachronistic device that couldn't very well have been left out of the picture. The cast is pretty weak, on the whole, with main attraction Simpson barely able to get her lines out, and her accent being highly variable. Nelson is barely better. Knoxville and Scott seem to be having an awfully good time raising hell, while Reynolds is fairly entertaining in sending up his screen persona.

That said, the incessant car chases and action sequences are quite well done, with plenty of the trademark flying cars. Most of them are done practically too, which is a plus in the CGI era. An army of stunt drivers helps give the movie whatever interest it might have. There is one sequence that manages to be funny through pure surrealism, when the Duke boys crash the Georgia State University geology lab and manage to convince an underpaid student worker that they're Japanese executives. The HD-DVD is the unrated version of the film, with somewhat rougher language and a fair amount of nudity (though none from Jessica Simpson, sorry).

Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The 2.40:1 image is very attractive on the whole, with plenty of detail, texture and shadow information. Colors are brightly vivid throughout. Edge enhancement is prominent during the title montage and in a few other sequences, but on the whole it's a fine transfer of a new film. No damage of any kind is visible.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Spanishyes
Dolby Digital
+
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The sound is very clean on the DD+ 5.1 track, with the music in particular having plenty of impact. The frequent explosions have nice bass range and presence as well. There's not a ton of directionality, with most of the dialogue remaining center-bound.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu
Scene Access with 30 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
24 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
6 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Elite
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. In-Movie Experience
  2. Music video
Extras Review: As an incentive to purchase this train wreck, Warner piles on the extras. Foremost and exclusive to the HD-DVD is the "In-Movie Experience," a form of commentary track that includes video vignettes from director Jay Chandrasekhar, actors Knoxville, Scott and Simpson, behind-the-scenes video segments and a trivia track. There's also a "Daisy Meter" that goes up and down, though in response to exactly what, it's never quite clear. It also allows you to compare the clothed PG-13 scenes vs. the unrated nude scenes. The disc also includes six featurettes (which are also the sources for material seen in the In-Movie Experience) cover a variety of topics. They start off with a farcical look at the infamous Daisy Duke short short shorts and their scientific design. A 5m:14s featurette is devoted to re-creating the General Lee, which is much more difficult at this point in time that much farther removed from 1969. The flying car stunts are the subject of a 4m:50s look. The Hazards of Dukes is a 'making of' that actually contains some good information in its 14m:49s running time and is much more than a puff piece. Two brief silly items wrap up the featurettes: a 29s look at aguy with General Lee tattooed on his foot, and a short comedy about the stunt dummies having a night on the town.

The theatrical trailer is included as well as Simpson's Brett Ratner-directed video for These Boots Were Made for Walking, which incorporates footage from the film as well using the sets to good effect. Not only does the feature restore numerous deleted scenes, but there are nearly half an hour of more deleted scenes, including a variant ending that really doesn't work at all. Finally, there are a pair of blooper reels, one PG-13 and another 'unrated' one; they share a little bit of footage but they mostly are quite distinct. Those who like this film will find a lot to delve through in this very thorough package of extras.

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

Another bewildering adaptation of an old television show fails to score on any level except for some spectacular stunts. The transfer is fine, and there are plenty of extras if you like the movie.

 


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