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DVD Review: Jay Chandrasekhar’s The Dukes of Hazzard on Warner Home Video

Played for laughs, the extras collected on this unrated DVD of The Dukes of Hazzard will hardly summon a chuckle.

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The Dukes of Hazzard

How Jay Chandrasekhar got to direct The Dukes of Hazzard is beyond me, but I’d like to think that some stoner intern at Warner Bros. was responsible for introducing his boss to the pleasures of the Broken Lizard films, especially the witty and delirious fusion of unbridled teenage sexuality, horror tropes, and pop codes embodied by Club Dread’s awesome live version of Pac-Man. But save for a stretch of celluloid that takes cousins Bo (Seann William Scott) and Luke Duke (Johnny Knoxville) from Hazzard Country to Atlanta—beginning with an antsy traffic jam that reveals a Confederate flag printed on the roof of their orange Dodge and concludes with the boys wearing black face and incurring the wrath of a group of African-Americans—it’s clear from watching the film that Chandrasekhar’s free rein behind the camera was limited to some 15 minutes. But that’s not to say that this big screen adaptation of Gy Waldron’s 1979-85 television series sees Chandrasekhar’s typically subversive vision completely lobotomized: Even as the film tediously tends to its arbitrary plot, Michael Weston pencil-twirling cop and Kevin Heffernen’s bracing alien-obsessed hillbilly suggest infiltrators from some Broken Lizard alternate universe, while Chandrasekhar displays almost oneiric reverence for the iconography that has earned Dukes of Hazzard a permanent place in the annals of pop culture. That means that the stars of this completely disposable show are not the big names (no offense to William Scott, whose spastic energy is laudable), but Jessica Simpson’s many cut-offs, the narrated freeze frames, and the Duke boys’ skids onto, off of, and over Louisiana-as-Georgia’s backroads and freeways. Considering there was nothing to Dukes of Hazzard besides its raging General Lee and Catherine Bach’s famous dukes, that makes Chandrasekhar’s film a loyal dog.

Image/Sound

Even the faintest glimpses of edge halos can’t distract from what remains a remarkably solid transfer, boasting accurate skin tones, deep blacks, and impressive shadow delineation. The overall presentation is earthy but vibrant. Sound is equally solid, but the General Lee’s horsepower might have sounded better with the added kick of a DTS track.

Extras

“Daisy Dukes: The Short Short Shorts” explains how the costume department had to put Jessica Simpson’s shorts on a Barbie doll whenever the singer/actress wasn’t on the set (not funny), and the featurette “The Hazards of Dukes” intermittingly cuts away from its behind-the-scenes glimpses to gratuitous shots of Simpson in her short shorts (also not funny). It’s like watching Broken Lizard humor being pitched at people who watch the Spice Channel. Other extras included here: “The General Lee Lives” and the self-explanatory “How to Launch a Muscle Car 175 Feet in 4 Seconds,” Simpson’s music video for “These Boots Are Made For Walking,” a bunch of additional scenes and bloopers (both divided for whatever reason into rated and unrated sections), and a theatrical trailer.

Overall

Played for laughs, the extras collected on this unrated DVD of The Dukes of Hazzard will hardly summon a chuckle.

Cast: Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott, Jessica Simpson, Willie Nelson, Lynda Carter, Michael Weston, Kevin Heffernen, David Koechner, Jack Polick, Burt Reynolds Director: Jay Chandrasekhar Screenwriter: John O'Brien Distributor: Warner Home Video Running Time: 107 min Rating: NR Year: 2005 Release Date: December 6, 2005 Buy: Video, Soundtrack

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