The Devil's Rejects...mine, too. Tantalized by some favorable critical comment, I got around to the sophomore effort of rocker-turned-film- maker Rob Zombie a bit late, but sooner than I got around to its forerunner, House of 1000 Corpses, which shall remain ungotten-around-to. (To have said "sophomoric effort" would have veered from fact into flattery.) The further adventures of a yokel family of mass murderers, whose aliases are lifted from Groucho Marx characters, carom between a kind of geeky jokery and a mile-wide mean streak. The writer-director sets his sights low -- early Tobe Hooper and Wes Craven would be two of his pet bloodhounds, his pointers -- and shoots even lower, with telephoto closeups, spastic camera movement, colorless color, and all-around shoddiness. Looked at in the right light, his success was assured. Next time I'll know better than to look.
The Dukes of Hazzard, broadly speaking a Zombie film without the corpses, is a big-screen transplant of the hayseed TV comedy circa 1980, a younger cousin of the likes of Smokey and the Bandit. There is thus a sort of rough justice in casting the mummified Burt Reynolds, the one-time Bandit, as an odious backwoods bigwig, a greedy pig named Hogg. As a bonus, "multi-platinum singing sensation Jessica Simpson," so identified in the press book, "is making her feature film debut," which now enables me, should the need arise in the next day or two, to pick her out of a police lineup. One early chuckle -- an audio autobiography of car racer Al Unser, Jr., as read by Laurence Fishburne -- is followed by endless miles of teeth-grinding. The senior directing effort of Jay Chandrasekhar, co-founder of the Broken Lizard comedy troupe, is the first I've seen since his freshman one, Super Troopers. I'm getting careless in my defenses.