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Movie Review

Luke and Bo Duke are making their rounds delivering moonshine for their Uncle Jesse. That's how the movie begins. But when Luke stops in at Laurie's place for a bit of afternoon delight, he and his cousin are about to find out just how, ahem, hazardous it is to live in Hazzard County, Georgia.

The next thing you know, gunshots ring out and a half-dressed Luke comes tumbling out of Laurie's upstairs bedroom window. He scrambles back to Bo, who's waiting with General Lee's engine running, and we're good to go for the film's first chase scene. Tires spin, gravel spurts and bullets fly as the Duke boys race for their lives while Laurie's relatives try to put an end to their "fun."

Now, I haven't seen every single Dukes of Hazzard TV episode, but I'm pretty sure interrupted sex scenes and partial nudity never mixed it up onscreen with buckshot in 1979—and that's allowing for the fact that the Dukes weren't exactly saints back then, either. So, the names may be the same, but that's about it as The Dukes of Hazzard officially cashes in the last little bit of goodwill and credibility it owns on the big screen.

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Positive Elements

It turns out that Boss Hogg and Rosco P. Coltrane are bent on turning Hazzard into one big coal mine. And to do it, they've got to hoodwink the community. The Dukes do everything they can to thwart that plan and awaken the townsfolk to their dire situation. (That's a good thing to do within the context of the story, but in the process Bo, Luke and Uncle Jesse manage to break just about every law ever legislated, so I'm not going to spend much energy tippin' my hat to 'em.) Likewise, Bo defends Daisy's honor when a man makes a crass, sexual comment about her. (But he does so using his fists, and since Daisy has no honor worth mentioning, what's his point other than starting a brawl?)

Spiritual Content

Bo mockingly claims that he likes to think he travels "with the man upstairs—you know, Jesus."

Sexual Content

"I will wear sexy clothes. I'm not ashamed of my body," Jessica Simpson told FHM magazine in 2001. "I want to show my body, and that's OK because God gave me my body and I am proud of it and I worked for it, dang it! I definitely want heads to turn." It's the perfect attitude to have, I guess, if you want to play Daisy Duke in a movie that turns her into nothing more than a sexual decoy. There is only one reason for Daisy to exist in the Duke family in this post-TV reincarnation, and that's to use her sex appeal to get her relatives out of trouble. When she states as much to Uncle Jesse, he lovingly pats her on the arm and says, "Yes, and that's why we love you, Daisy."

Ugh. It's enough to make Catherine Bach blush. At least in the original series, Daisy was an actual character and not just a sex object. Here, she wiggles and giggles her way through a series of "seductions" designed to get her and her family what they want. She strips down to her bikini and lolls all over Deputy Enos to coax him into telling her where Boss Hogg is holding Uncle Jesse. She sexes it up in Atlanta to distract a couple of cops who have arrested Bo and Luke. And she cajoles the governor into pardoning Bo and Luke when the ruckus is over.

When Luke launches the movie by having sex with Laurie, she's seen in her underwear, and he's seen in boxers. (The engrossed pair clutch and grope in front of a window.) Daisy is slapped on her rear while serving drinks. At a college dorm in Atlanta, Bo and Luke stumble into room after room filled with lingerie-clad coeds. When they finally find the girl they're looking for, she and her roommate are wearing only towels.

Uncle Jesse tells Viagra jokes and bestiality jokes. Other scenes include all manner of sexual jabs and double entendres referencing, among other things, clothing fetishes, homosexual attraction, incest and masturbation. There's an ongoing gag about how Bo is in love with his car and wants to have sex with it. For laughs, the camera zooms in on visual miscues to make you think Uncle Jesse and Daisy have a "thing" going on. (Outtakes that run during the closing credits contain even more foul content.)

Violent Content

Gentlemen, start yer engines and load up yer shotguns. Lengthy chases always ended in painful pileups on TV, but here the ante is upped in every way imaginable. Cars go faster and fly higher on the jumps. Guns are fired more often. And there's no way everyone walks away alive. One spectacularly irresponsible sequence has Uncle Jesse turning jars of moonshine into Molotov cocktails and tossing them at police cars, which burst into flames, explode and tumble off the road.

Johnny Knoxville is more Jacka-- star than Luke Duke when he clings to a careening steel safe towed by Bo's speeding truck. Plastic explosives later shred the safe. (Luke ignites the "bomb" with a flaming arrow; a toy/weapon used at other times in the movie as well.) Luke and Bo have a "guy thing" going in which whoever wins impromptu bets gets to hit the loser in the face—hard—with a phone book. Daisy kicks the man who slaps her backside, and puts her foot on his throat. A bar brawl sees lots of physical injury and property damage. (Daisy utilizes a big fan to sling pool balls at people, hitting faces, crotches, etc.) Bo lights a gas torch in the college lab and scorches Luke's coat with it. Boss Hogg pays money to see a man get decked. Later, Uncle Jesse clocks Hogg.

Crude or Profane Language

A muttered f-word makes its way into the main script; several more are partially muted during outtakes. The s-word gets a workout (it's voiced nearly 20 times; many times it's linked to "holy.") Jesus' name is forcefully abused a handful of times; God's name is combined with "d--n" about 10 times. A woman makes an obscene gesture. Add in milder profanities, and the average tops one a minute for the film's nearly two-hour duration.

Drug and Alcohol Content

The Dukes make, drink and sell moonshine. Two scenes involve smoking marijuana. In one, it's implied that the governor gets high with Uncle Jesse and Sheev, a friend of the Dukes. In the other, college girls fill their room with smoke. (Luke and Bo eagerly go inside.) At bars, people drink and smoke. A crack is made about cocaine.

Other Negative Elements

Sheev never wears pants; he's always seen in his underwear. He's deemed "crazy" and is made fun of several times for his lack of brain power and his devotion to armadillo-shell helmets. (He's also said to have drunk toilet water out of the girls' restroom.) A crass joke uses spina bifida as a starting point. Police officers are called "pigs" and are always presented as corrupt, lazy, incompetent or all three.

Conclusion

Twenty years have slipped by since The Dukes of Hazzard ended its TV run in 1985. Of course, Bo, Luke, Daisy, Uncle Jesse, Cooter, Rosco and Boss Hogg have lived on through the marketing miracle of syndication ever since, but they ain't never done much harm to nobody ... until now.

Hazzard County doesn't look quite the same on the big screen, and its citizens don't act the same, either. Sure, Bo and Luke have always loved driving fast and crashing hard, but it's not the country-road chase sequences that destroy The Dukes. It's the attitude. Silliness has been replaced by meanness. Goofiness with dull stupidity. Laugh lines with sexual sludge. Exclamations are now laced with vulgarity. And "trying to do the right thing but doing it the wrong way" has given in to "just do whatever you please at whatever cost." Never before has that signature, beat-up orange hotrod shown so many dents.

After reading the script months before the movie was released, Ben Jones (who played mechanic Cooter on the TV series) wrote the following on his Web site: "From all I have seen and heard, the Dukes movie is a sleazy insult to all of us who have cared about The Dukes of Hazzard. ... I would strongly recommend that true-blue Dukes fans hold their noses and pass this one up. ... Basically, they trashed our show." Indeed. Not even Boss Hogg would want to punish the Duke boys as much as this movie does.

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