Monday, April 03, 2006

Diggin' The Dukes of Hazzard Movie

Okay, let's try to return to some semblance of coherence this week...
As I mentioned on Friday, I recently watched last summer's big screen version of The Dukes of Hazzard on DVD. For me, the most surprising thing about the film, in fact the only surprising thing in what is a fairly predictable film that, for the most part, sticks to the classic Dukes formula, is that I enjoyed it. What is surprising about this is that I vehemently and passionately hated the original. So, ever since watching the movie, I've been trying to figure out what it is about Dukes 2.o that engaged me where the original failed to.
I think it may be that the new Dukes is slightly less cartoony than the original was. Not that there's anything wrong with cartoonishness. One of my all time favorite shows is Gilligan's Island which is the very epitome of a live action cartoon and I wouldn't wouldn't want that to change in any update or movie. In the case of Dukes, however, toning down the outlandishness especially works when it come to the villains of the piece, Boss Hogg and Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane.
The whole theme of "fightin' the system like two modern day Robin Hoods" really never worked for me because the system was run by a couple of buffoons who were clearly not smart enough to pull off any of there ridiculous schemes. They were more lovable bumblers than evil oppressors.
In the film, however, Burt Reynolds brings a slick, sinister charm to the role of Jefferson Davis Hogg that Sorrell Booke never could have. Coltrane is portrayed closer to the stereotypical redneck Southern sheriff of the type that Jackie Gleason played in Smoky and The Bandit. The revamped Hogg and Coltrane at last seem a real threat and there's at least a hint that, if it weren't for the Duke boys, who we know will win in the end, these two might actually be able to make their latest ridiculously complex evil scheme work.
The neo-Dukes themselves have more of an edge to them than their TV predecessors. On TV, even though the Dukes were "outlaws," they were never actually ever shown doing anything outside the law, whereas the film shows them running moonshine for Uncle Jesse. I also liked the way the film built on Bo and Luke's characters by making making Luke a Hillbilly Cassanova and depicting Bo as having a weird and unnatural attachment to the General Lee (and I kind of got the idea that there's a hint that Bo might be gay.)
Most TV to film adaptation come across as pale imitations or rip-offs of the source material, but The Dukes of Hazzard is the only one I've seen that makes me wish the TV show had been more like the movie.

1 comment:

thebigcurve said...

not to mention that Jessica Simpson is SOOOO Hot!
Mmmm....Daisy Dukes!