Sunday, June 05, 2005

A Little Bit More Than The Law Will Allow

The almost-universal response to the upcoming Dukes of Hazzard movie has been one of disgust and dismay. I don’t understand why. If Hollywood is set on remaking old properties, I can’t think of a better show to make the jump to the big screen than The Dukes of Hazzard. First of all, there’s no way they can ruin it. Is there a less sacred show you can imagine than the original Dukes? I loved it growing up, precisely because it was an excuse for frequent, lengthy car chases and little else. This is the show that replaced its lead actors two years in, and nobody cared! The General Lee was all that mattered. The movie Duke boys, Johnny Knoxville and Sean William Scott, are a perfect fit for this brand of brainless entertainment, with the added bonus that you can remember their faces five seconds after you stop looking at them. The new director, Broken Lizard’s Jay Chandrasekhar, of the cult favorite Super Troopers and the utterly ignored Club Dread, has professed his love of good old-fashioned smash-up car chase movies and his intent to do just that with Dukes of Hazzard. So his intentions are admirable.

On the other hand, there is the trailer, and it looks awful. Obviously, the big source of worry is Jessica Simpson. I remember Daisy having a pretty limited role in the show and I was hoping for the same from the movie, that casting Simpson would be a stunt for a very minor, unimportant role. Now, granted, I never paid attention to the TV show whenever the General Lee was offscreen, so I don’t really remember the characters or the stories or anything like that. But it seems to me that Jessica Simpson as Daisy Duke has more screen time in the trailer than I remember Daisy Duke having in the entire run of the TV show. At the time, I was too young to appreciate her short shorts, and if weren’t for a set of Dukes of Hazzard toy cars that mysteriously included Uncle Jesse’s Jeep, which in turn made me notice Jesse and Daisy driving the Jeep in the show, I probably wouldn’t remember Jesse and Daisy at all. But surely Daisy didn’t whore it up as much as Jessica Simpson does here, with the stripping down to a bikini and sub-Charlie’s-Angels lines like “I think something bounced up into my undercarriage.”

Speaking of whoring it up, what’s with all the T&A? On the show, I barely remember the Duke boys ever making it into town, let alone into a girls’ dorm filled with towel-clad hotties. Broad comedies always have scenes with hot girls prancing around and being sexy and titillating. Has anyone noticed that these scenes are never actually funny? No one, besides maybe Matt Loker, can relate to situations like this in real life. Take the locker room scene in Starsky & Hutch when the cheerleader casually takes off her top, and Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson lose track of their questions. Even if these scenes are marginally funny, we’re too distracted by the sexy girls to actually pay attention, and our forced laughter is just a cover so we can convince the people around us that we’re really not enjoying this on the level of soft-core porn. Are these scenes even meant to make us laugh, or are they just supposed to give us uncomfortable, guilty erections?

Still, even considering all of these problems and breaks in tone—who cares? It’s the Dukes of Hazzard!! Did you see how much air that car gets? It’s insane! Preposterously exaggerated even compared to the jumps on the show! No car could land from that height and keep driving! In short, I still want to see it.


Anonymous said...

"Starsky and Hutch"'s locker room scene was especially annoying because the audience didn't even get to see the topless girl. The whole point of the scene isn't even the guilty erections of audience members, but instead, it's Ben Stiller's guilty erection.

The other thing I hate is the Law of Comedic Male Nudity. Anytime that a male character is caught witohut pants on, it is required that another character make reference to how cold it is...because his penis is small! And cold temperatures might make a respectable-sized penis look smaller and more comical! Oh, the embarrassing hilarity of the small flaccid penis!


Kenny said...

Do you remember whether the Law of Comedic Male Nudity predated the the fifth season Seinfeld episode, "The Hamptons," which, as far as I know, coined the term "shrinkage" and introduced the topic to pop culture at large? I've only noticed it since then, and it's always annoyed me because it always felt like an inferior repetition of a joke Seinfeld had already done. But maybe I was too young to recognize the phenomenon prior to that point, and Seinfeld just happened to be my first introduction.

On gratuitous T&A in broad comedies: In teen sex comedies, it's more forgivable, because the subject matter and themes of the story dictate that boobs and babes and horny boys are the whole point of the story. In American Pie and Road Trip, it makes sense that these scenes are there. I like the scene in Road Trip where girls in the bathroom are chatting topless. Someone interrupts Tom Green, the storyteller, to protest that girls don't really do that, and he insists that it's his story and he'll tell it his way. But when these scenes show up in Starsky & Hutch or Dukes of Hazzard, they have no reason to be there.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on "Raod Trip". It's also worse in "starsky and Hutch" because Owen Wilson is supposed to be a big ladies' man - yet still totally flustered watching a woman change.

I am pretty sure the Law does not precede "The Hamptons", and so you were right to be annoyed at the "Seinfeld" ripoff.