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PCR # 280  (Vol. 6, No. 31)  This edition is for the week of August 1--7, 2005.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"The Dukes of Hazzard"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Three stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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"The Dukes of Hazzard"
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Warner Brothers     
Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott, Jessica Simpson, Burt Reynolds and Willie Nelson
Directed by: Jay Chandrasekhar
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 1 hour 46 mins

"I don't plan to see the movie, but I'm sure that Mike Smith, God Bless him, will give us a great review on it." PCR Columnist Will Moriaty - November 15, 2004

Where were you on January 26, 1979? If you were me you were an usher, patrolling the aisles of the Floriland theatre in Tampa as "Superman the Movie" began it's 7th big week. If you were home, you may have tuned into a new television show about three cousins and their car. The show was "The Dukes of Hazzard," which became one of the most popular shows of it's time. And, as Hollywood is seeming to do more often, this week brings a big screen version of the small screen hit.

For those not familiar with the show, our story includes Bo (Scott) and Luke (Knoxville) Duke, two cousins who act more like brothers. When they're not racing their car, the General Lee (a souped-up 1969 Dodge Charger---N), they run moonshine for their Uncle Jesse (Nelson). Of course, that puts them in the bad graces of the town big shot, Boss Hogg (Reynolds), whose greed knows no boundaries. Add to the mix their sexy cousin, Daisy (Simpson), throw in an evil plan from Boss Hogg and you surprisingly have a film that is one of the most entertaining films of the summer. And how could it not be? Burt Reynolds and Willie Nelson were arguably the most famous people in their professions in the late 70's and early 80's. It was obvious from their work that the Bandit and the Red Headed Stranger liked to have fun. This generation has discovered two performers that bring that same enthusiasm to their work in Scott and Knoxville. All four of these men have one thing in common: they seem like someone you'd really like to party with. And the fun they have in this film carries it along.

Scott's Bo is all innocence. He has a habit of fainting when he's around a girl he likes and has an almost unhealthy relationship with his car. For culture he listens to "The Al Unser Story" on cassette. It's culture because it's narrated by Lawrence Fishburne. Knoxville is just the opposite as Luke. He has an almost uncanny way with the ladies, though he often finds himself in trouble with their fathers. As Daisy, Simpson doesn't have to do much but look good in scanty outfits, which she does very well. Reynolds plays Boss Hogg much darker then the late Sorrele Booke, even going so far as to invent a phony charity (for "one of the bifidas" he claims) so he can get his face on a race car. Nelson is a riot as mellow Uncle Jesse, spending his days making moonshine and telling bad jokes. But the real star of the film is the General Lee. Director Chandrasekhar, one of the members of the comedy troupe Broken Lizard, proves to have a keen eye for action. Using shots that show the car on the various roads, rather then the standard close up of the driver, he takes you along for the ride. The various stunts are well done and you feel the speed of the car as it races across the screen. Also, Broken Lizard fans will be glad to see that all members of the group appear in various cameos, including Chandrasekhar re-teaming with his "Super Troopers" co-star Erik Stolhanske to recreate a classic scene from that film.

Much was made during production of the film of the fact that the Confederate flag, which was proudly painted onto the roof of the General Lee, would remain on for the film. In the 25-plus years since the show debuted, the flag has become a magnet that draws both supporters and dissenters into many an argument. Kudos to the film makers for leaving the flag intact and featuring a scene that features both points of view on the subject. Extra credit for an almost perfect soundtrack, featuring great Southern Rock hits by Molly Hatchet, RamJam and other artists. Of course it wouldn't be "The Dukes of Hazzard" without the great ballad that was written and performed by Waylon Jennings. It seems only fitting that Nelson, the late Jennings closest friend, covers the song during the end credits. And credit watchers will be rewarded by a great series of out takes featuring not only the cast but the various mishaps that took place when the General Lee was put through it's paces.

As summer begins to creep into autumn, the films released seem to get less and less entertaining. Happily, "The Dukes of Hazzard" is an entertaining exception. On a scale of zero to four stars I give "The Dukes of Hazzard"  Three stars

This week's movie review of "The Dukes of Hazzard" is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2005, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.