Hmmm, is that a whiff of Kentucky fried turkey? Face it, The Dukes Of Hazzard didn't sound promising, did it? Another bottom-scraping remake of a fondly remembered TV show bulked out by underachievers (Scott), shaky acting talents (Knoxville and Simpson) and has-beens (Nelson and Reynolds), magimixed together by a director best known for the lazy gross-out Xeroxing that is Super Troopers.
Yet against all the odds, Dukes turns out to be a mini corker - a sweet, witty, rollicking comedy that's true to the gentle spirit of the TV show while adding enough big-screen frills to keep non-nostalgia freaks chortling too.
The mix-and-match casting genuinely works. Nelson is spot-on as good ol' OAP Uncle Jesse, while Reynolds makes a slimline but still black-hearted Boss Hogg. Even Simpson impresses, wriggling into the tight denim shorts of Daisy, she makes her both pant-pleasingly sexy and suprisingly smart. No, really.
But the film really belongs to Scott and Knoxville. The former shelves the foul-mouthed Stifler while the latter puts Jackass behind him by proving that he really can act. Wisely ditching gross-out extravagances, director Chandraskehar goes full-throttle for laughs based on slapstick and one-liners, allowing a real comic chemistry to develop between the Duke fellas. Knoxville's laid-back ladies' man effortlessly throws punches and smart-arse wisecracks ("We prefer 'Appalachian Americans,'" he quips when labelled a redneck), while Scott's sweet-but-dim petrolhead simply relishes honking the General Lee's horn.
The crucial flaw is that despite a half-dozen car chases there's no real Fast And Furious excitement generated. But that was never the point of the TV show, either. Not perfect, but it's an affectionate and funny tribute, made with as much carefree enjoyment. Yeeee-haw, y'all!
A sweet, sparky and funny comedy that's more than the sum of its motor parts. Fine, so the result is no Starsky & Hutch - but it's not a million miles off, either.
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