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Notes From The Back Row

Going down south

Summer is upon us, hot and sweaty. Time to drive with the windows down, oggle half-naked chicks and do your damnedest to reproduce, or at least practice. All three of these fine summer pastimes are featured in the Village 8 theatre this week with the openings of The Dukes of Hazzard and the superb documentary March of the Penguins.

Let’s start with the dukes. If you’re anywhere near my age, you’ll remember the good old days with good ol’ boys Bo and Luke Duke, the two roughest, toughest, fastest, and smartest redneck moonshiners to ever shoot explosive arrows (the Dukes were legally barred from using firearms). Add in a ’63 Dodge Charger with the doors welded shut and the sexiest woman on television and you couldn’t drag little 5-year-old Feet Banks away from the TV with all the torque in Cooter’s tow truck. Yee haw, those days are back and Jay Chandrasekhar’s big screen remake of the classic TV show has finally arrived.

Anyone looking for a heavy plot or some deep emotions may as well just blow their fanbelts right now. The story plays like a TV show – Boss Hogg (Burt Reynolds) holds a high-profile car race to distract people while he consolidates his assets and schemes to turn Hazzard County into a strip mine.

Speaking of assets and stripping, down-south girl Jessica Simpson plays Daisy Duke and while she has a few problems with the acting thing, she fits the shorts perfectly. Willie Nelson pulls off a stoned Uncle Jesse while Johnny Knoxville and Stiffler (Seann William Scott) do a much better job of Luke and Bo than those crappy stand-in actors did for the 1982-83 television season when the real Dukes battled contract disputes. Remember how much those replacement guys sucked? I do.

Honestly, The Dukes Of Hazzard is little more than a high-flying, bar-brawling, bikini-gawking, redneck-moonshine swilling, stick-it-to-the-man, shitkicking, down-home hell of a good time. No brains needed but old-time fans will be hooked from the first bars of the title song right on through the nostalgic freeze frames and comedic narration and finishing with all the sweet bloopers and car smashes during the end credits. The Dukes of Hazzard is a lighter, stupider, raunchier remake of a light, stupid, testosterone-fueled, early ’80s TV show. I love it.

Speaking of love, Elvis said only fools rush in but according to the new documentary March of the Penguins, birds do it too. Filmed in the harshest weather on earth (Antarctica is no joke), March... is about how emperor penguins will trek over 70 miles to get to traditional mating grounds. Beautifully photographed and incredible to watch, this movie, narrated by honey-voiced Morgan Freeman, has been drawing criticism for forcing human qualities such as grief and love onto the noble animals. Actually it’s a charming film that will make you wonder if perhaps these crazy penguins have a lot in common with us.

Ladies will especially love how the newborn chicks are pushed onto the fathers shortly after hatching while the mothers "hit the town" for a bite to eat. All us fellas sweating away in the summer sun can just be thankful that it’s not 50 below zero and our sweetheart hasn’t left us to stand for days with a hungry baby crammed under our asses.

These father penguins are commendable but they need to figure out the nanny concept and start thinking about what’s really important, like winning bar brawls and jumping your ’63 Charger 40 feet off the ground. Yee Haw.

AT VILLAGE 8 Aug. 5-11: Dukes of Hazzard; March of the Penguins; Wedding Crashers; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; Stealth; Sky High; Must Love Dogs; Bad News Bears; The Island.

AT RAINBOW THEATRE AUG. 5-11: Bewitched.