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The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning

Joe Bob Briggs (aka John Bloom) is one of the most important figures in the history of film criticism, if not the most. When he first appeared in the critical community, the world was soaked in drive-in movies, which were generally treated with scorn and disdain by his peers. What Briggs realized, and emphasized, was that a film such as Friday the 13th Part Four should be analyzed not for what it isn't, or its lack of pretense, but how successful it is in accomplishing its goals. A Pabst cannot be faulted for not being a Chateau Margaux 1995, but if it's a cheap beer you are looking for, then perhaps PBR fills that need. Such are the lessons that should be applied to 2007's The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning, if only because it has no artistic ambitions beyond being a direct-to-video sequel to a movie that was a "re-imagining" of a TV show. The story tells how cousins Bo Duke (Jonathan Bennett) and Luke Duke (Randy Wayne) met, due to being sent to work for Uncle Jesse (Willie Nelson, the only returning cast member from the film). Once they get to Hazzard County they meet the regulars: cousin Daisy Duke (April Scott), who begins her life as a prim and proper girl, the bumbling Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane (Harland Williams), the slimy weasel Boss Hogg (Christopher McDonald), and their car-man Cooter (Joel Moore). Also in town is Boss Hogg's wife Lulu (Sherilyn Fenn), who is horny for Luke, and would-be cop Enos (Adam Shulman), who longs for Daisy. The plot is that Boss Hogg has a plan to become the king moonshiner of Hazzard County, and to do so he puts Uncle Jesse in jail and the Duke boys on the trail of Hogg's nefarious scheme. Along the way, everything that has been established as canonical is paid lip-service, including the boys getting the iconic General Lee. With Moore, McDonald, and especially Harland Williams, The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning is one of the best cast movies of its ilk, and it offers enough laughs and gratuitous nudity to please a viewer with low enough expectations. And that's about as much as can be expected from something like this, which mean's it's a success — a low-expectations success. Warner Home Video presents the title in an unrated edition (an R rated version is also available), with a good anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras include seven featurettes (running 32 minutes in total) on the making of the movie, a music video, and a trailer, along with bonus trailers. Keep-case.

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