6 September 2010 | random_avenger
I've never watched the original Dukes of Hazzard TV series, so I don't know if the 2005 feature film was inferior to the show, but at least it contained somewhat entertaining car chases and a few chuckle-inducing jokes if not much more. The made-for-TV prequel is basically more of the same with a less famous cast and fewer funny scenes.
The story is set in the teenage years of Bo and Luke Duke (Jonathan Bennett and Randy Wayne) and recounts how they first met each other and got involved in the moonshining business in the rural Hazzard County in the southern USA. A local politician Boss Hogg (Christopher McDonald) is blackmailing the boys' uncle Jesse (Willie Nelson) to give up his liquor business but Bo and Luke decide to put an end to such plans, all the while chasing girls and poking fun at the inept sheriff (Harland Williams) in various ways. In addition to the origin of the boys' friendship, we also get to witness the birth of General Lee and the transformation of Daisy Duke (April Scott) from a nerdy wallflower to her famous sexy self.
Most of the 2005 film's main cast doesn't return, and sadly the new actors are no match for the old ones. The two stars are quite bland, and Joel Moore as their mechanic friend Cooter is more annoying than funny. Christopher McDonald is alright in his angry role though, even if his performance is inevitably overshadowed by that of Burt Reynolds in the first film. As a refreshing exception, country music legend Willie Nelson does reprise his role as Jesse, delivering by far the funniest lines in the movie. Besides telling amusing jokes and anecdotes, he also gets to play a couple of songs in a party scene.
The humour is mostly very clichéd and unimaginative. The cross dressing, toilet humour and female nudity failed to entertain me much as it's obvious that the writers haven't even tried to think of any new ways of presenting the same old gags. The series trademark car chases and jumps are automatically slightly entertaining though. Still, the action scenes and Willie Nelson aren't enough to save the movie from being a dull cash-in entry in a series that doesn't look like it was full of masterpieces in the first place. My expectations were so low that I wasn't really disappointed, but I certainly don't recommend The Beginning for anyone but the biggest fans of the first feature film.