A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this film includes frequent sexual slang and antics, jokes about drugs, beer, and moonshine, commercial references (particularly to beer brands), rowdy language (especially various uses of "ass" and "s--t"), raucous bar fights (a billiard ball hits a man's crotch), and long, loud car chases punctuated by flips, hard landings, and collisions. Men shoot shotguns and flaming/exploding arrows; though, for all the mayhem, only vehicles and buildings are destroyed, no visible deaths. One cousin regularly chases after girls, the other makes lusty references to his car; Daisy (of short shorts fame) displays cleavage. The car (named the General Lee) features a Confederate flag on its roof, eliciting responses pro (yay from good ol' boys) and con (boo from a group of African-American men ). Also be aware that the closing credits outtakes feature more coarse language and imagery. (The unrated version also includes topless women.)
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
THE DUKES OF HAZZARD is all about the car. The General Lee, a 1969 Dodge Charger that goes fast and makes lots of noise, carts the Duke cousins Bo (Seann William Scott) and Luke (Johnny Knoxville) through Hazzard County, as they deliver Uncle Jesse's (Willie Nelson) moonshine. Bo loves his car, as it provides not only transportation but a sense of identity and invincibility (it wins races and seems to endure any manner of collision and hard landing). The boys are occasionally aided by their curvaceous cousin Daisy (Jessica Simpson), who is able to manipulate every idiot male who comes down that pike -- that would be, every male in sight -- by showing her barely covered rump and cleavage. A feud is started when self-important, greedy county commissioner Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds) plans to strip-mine the valley. To this end, he grabs the Dukes' farm, has the General Lee totaled, and brings in famous race car driver Billy Prickett (James Roday) to drive in the Hazzard County Rally.
Is it any good?
Jay Chandrasekhar's movie is essentially just a lame series of rowdy antics rather than a sustained storyline. It's a string of broadly conceived hillbilly shenanigans, shoot-outs, vehicular mischief and repairs, and guest appearances by the Broken Lizard comedy troupe, Lynda Carter as Pauline, and Joe Don Baker as the Governor.
The movie does offer one awkward "update" of the CBS series, by acknowledging the car's infamous Confederate flag decal: during a brief trip to Atlanta (that is, the Big City), Bo and Luke run into a series of responses to the decal, pro and con, most notably a group of menacing black men in baggy pants upset when they see the cousins are also wearing an accidental blackface, following an explosion that leaves coal on their faces. No surprise, this addition only piles on more stereotypes.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the film's rampant use of stereotypes concerning hillbillies' bad taste and behaviors, sexual voraciousness, and violent excesses. Do such jokes hold up in 2005 (whether or not you laughed at the 1979-1985 CBS series)?
What are the effects of the film's ostensible "updates," that is, references to strip-mining, the Confederate flag decal's offensiveness, the uncle's pot-smoking, and the big business of car racing?
- In theaters: August 5, 2005
- On DVD or streaming: December 6, 2005
- Cast: Jessica Simpson, Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott
- Director: Jay Chandrasekhar
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 106 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sexual content, crude and drug-related humor, language and comic action violence