The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning
directed by Robert Berlinger
(Warner, 2007)

Surely, there must be a way for all of us fans of the real Dukes of Hazzard to get together and stop Hollywood from making these stupid movies that spit upon the traditions of the television series. Maybe you're wondering why I would even bother to watch this straight-to-DVD "prequel." Well, I'll tell you -- I just had to see if it could possibly be even worse than the first movie (and, uh, April Scott was looking mighty fine on the DVD cover).

Much to my surprise, I think this film might actually be a smidgen better than the first one. That's not to say that this one doesn't stink like all the manure on Uncle Jessie's farm, because it does. It did make me laugh a time or two, though, so I think I'm being rather generous in giving the film a cautious recommendation.

Apart from Willie Nelson as Uncle Jessie, this film sports an all-new cast, with Jonathan Bennett and Randy Wayne taking on the roles of Bo and Luke, respectively. Both cousins, who haven't seen each other in several years, are sent to work on Jessie's farm to keep them out of trouble (Luke's a pyromaniac and Bo's an all-around menace to society). Daisy (April Scott) is also there, but she surely isn't the Daisy I was expecting. This Daisy is a good girl who dresses in frumpy clothes, does basically nothing with her hair and can't get any man to notice her (except for hall monitor Enos). The movie's halfway over before she transforms herself and breaks out the Daisy Dukes I was looking for. Even then, she's no Catherine Bach, but she's certainly prettier -- and a much better actress -- than Jessica Simpson.

Christopher McDonald plays the young Boss Hogg. He's certainly a step up from Burt Reynolds, but why in the world they go out and get a tall, lanky guy to fill the definitive shoes of the short and stocky Sorrell Booke is still a mystery to me. James Best will always be the one and only Rosco, but Harland Williams does OK in the role, especially for a comedian turned actor. Finally, the filmmakers apparently didn't appreciate Ben Jones, the real Cooter, telling fans not to watch the first movie because they turn Cooter into a complete idiot here.

Basically, this film shows us the origin of the Duke boys. Uncle Jessie and Boss Hogg are buddies at the start, but these fellow moonshiners part ways when Hogg demands a bigger cut of Jessie's business. The Duke farm is soon on the line as Boss Hogg declares Hazzard a dry county and sics Roscoe on all of the moonshiners in the area (especially the Dukes). Bo and Luke volunteer to distribute the 'shine -- but first, they need a fast car (enter the General Lee). Daisy wants to help out by getting a job at the Boar's Nest, but first she has to stop dressing like a schoolmarm and come up with a new, sexy look. From that point on, it's just a matter of getting through a bunch of stupid plot points and shenanigans on the way to the most predictable of endings.

Let me also say a few words about the women in this movie. Hazzard County is supposedly in North Carolina, the state I've lived in all of my life, and I just have to say that (apart from April Scott) the women in this film, especially the peroxide blondes Bo and Luke keep chasing, can't hold a candle to the true Southern girls of North Carolina. Carolina girls are the best in the world, but you wouldn't know it from watching this film.

I for one hope the Dukes of Hazzard movies will stop at two. Neither of them have been loyal to the spirit of the show, especially when it comes to Uncle Jessie, and there are plenty of other dumb scripts floating around out there in La-La Land full of the same dumb jokes and toilet humor you'll find here.

review by
Daniel Jolley

8 March 2008

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