Better than you would expect - marginally,
This review is from: The Dukes of Hazzard - Unseen [DVD]  (DVD)
When I heard they were remaking the Dukes of Hazzard, I groaned inwardly, and refused to watch it on the big screen. But, at home on the TV (the way The Dukes Of Hazzard are in any case meant to be seen), it really isn't as bad as I expected.
Basically, what you've got is Willy Nelson as a very creditable Uncle Jesse, a Dodge Charger that really does have the look and feel of the General Lee, and an Enos who really is quite reminiscent of the original. Sean William Scott does a good enough job as Bo, and Johnny Knoxville as Luke, to not bother you. Jessica Simpson isn't _quite_ cut out to be Daisy, but she sort of makes sense in context. M.C. Gainey, who was a guest star in the original series, is ok as Rosco P. Coltrane, but Burt Reynolds as Boss Hogg is really an entirely different character from the short, fat, and ludicrously self-important Sorrell Brooke that we all knew and loved to hate.
Actually, it really is the Boss Hogg character that distances this movie from its original. 'Our' Boss Hogg was greedy but not really evil. He would occasionally call a truce with the Dukes when someone really nasty turned up, and, over the seven series, it turned out he had a lifelong rivalry which was a kind of friendship with Uncle Jesse. Burt Reynolds's Boss Hogg, though, is unremittingly evil -- something which the director makes absolutely clear when he burns Rosco's nose with shrimp tongues which he has pulled out of boiling water.
The other thing which separates this from the original is the slowness of the plot, and the amount of explanation that the director seems to think we need. This isn't just limited to telling us who and what all the characters are -- fair enough if many of the target viewers had never seen the original. Crucial bits of plot are explained over and again, such as when Boss Hogg tries a ruse to get the Duke boys to go out to the Duke farm. In the original this would have been done with a knowing look to camera. In this film, we get it spelled out in three different ways. Likewise, despite the frequent car chases, which are as good as (but not better than) the TV series, the plot moves along very, very slowly.
I want to write that this is a feature length show which has the same amount of plot as a TV episode. But, the truth is, it doesn't actually have that much. Bits of plotting that often found their way in, such as a country singer being stung by Rosco's speed traps and forced to sing in the Boar's Nest to avoid the consequences, are missing, and even the main car chase at the end lacks racing drama.
If you loved the original series, you may well be better off getting the seven series boxed set. But, even if you haven't seen the original, you may find yourself working out the plot about 1/3 of the way through, which is a bit disappointing.
So, what's this film got going for it, then? It's reasonably faithful to the original, at least on the Duke side. The car is very, very good. And, if you can get over the simplistic plot and awkward attempts to bring it up to date, it's a fairly fun evening's viewing.
Don't imagine you'll be watching it twice, though. It's just not that kind of film.