As the corrupt Georgia commissioner, Boss Hogg, in the movie version of ''The Dukes of Hazzard," Burt Reynolds wears cream-colored three-piece suits that match his teeth. His hair is a shiny silver pelt, and he won't enter a scene unless he can walk off with it.
The movie, sadly, lets him down. There's nothing to steal. ''The Dukes of Hazzard" is a cheap, greasy time at the multiplex. You leave annoyed at having been hungry enough to have ever wanted it in the first place.
The film remains faithful to the gamboling spirit of the series. But Jessica Simpson's bodacious contributions notwithstanding, there's just no body. Cousins and moonshine couriers Bo and Luke (Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville) race from one vehicular pileup to the next, in the name of stopping Boss Hogg from razing their Uncle Jesse's farm to build a strip mine for coal.
Hogg's scheme manages to rope in a famous homegrown stock car racer who's too good for Hazzard. And it affords the boys a trip to a college campus, which had been like kryptonite to them. Then Luke gets a gander at some of the co-eds.
Simpson, the singer and reality-television wife, plays Daisy Duke, the cousin who's always bailing the boys out of trouble. She acknowledges that her resources are simultaneously ample and limited. Bo and Luke will surely get themselves locked up, ''and I'm gonna have to wag my [butt] to get them out," she complains with refreshing awareness.
The movie lets her be as canny as Catherine Bach was in the original show, yet she's still just a tease for the horndogs on the set and in the audience. Her wiles consist of walking up to men in her eponymous short-shorts. Simpson has legs for weeks, and while this is hardly the occasion to evaluate her craft as an actor, she does give her scenes a charge that the movie can't sustain. Every time she knocks our hair back, the film abruptly moves on.
Screenwriter John O'Brien and director Jay Chandrasekhar attempt to bring the Dukes into the 21st century, but their efforts don't pan out. When Bo and Luke leave their backwoods county for Atlanta, they're given grief over the Confederate flag painted on the roof of their car, the General Lee. But the boys' encounters with a house full of randy sorority girls, annoyed African-Americans, and a college science lab just confirm that they're brainless, live-action cartoons. (Though Luke teaches us that the politically correct term for ''redneck hillbilly" is ''Appalachian American.")
O'Brien was a writer of last year's ''Starsky & Hutch," which was a gas because it shrewdly, if crudely, had fun not merely with the premise of the TV series but with the essence of its era. The filmmakers transformed a serious cop show into a wall-to-wall work of kitsch. ''The Dukes of Hazzard," by comparison, just feels like an extended lost episode of the original show. (As Uncle Jesse, Willie Nelson does get to revel in his unabashed love for weed, and it's a funny moment that comes far too late in the action.)
The real trouble is that the movie can't determine what type of dumb it would like to be. Raucous? Juvenile? Ironic and knowingly dumb? Is it good-natured? Mean? With bigger or more interesting stars on display, these aren't questions you'd be forced to ask. But Scott and Knoxville are crash-test dummies. They both have stick-on accents, and Scott spends half the movie in a regionally inappropriate Led Zeppelin T-shirt that should have won him a black eye from an Allman brother. His idiot shtick has its amusements, which surface whenever the movie throws a girl in his way. But it's not enough to wrest ''The Dukes of Hazzard" from mediocrity.
This is a movie crying out for actors to bend the proceedings to their will, the way Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson might. With the Bo and Luke we get, it's tough to tell whether Scott and Knoxville are in on the joke or the brunt of it.
The worst news is that ''The Dukes of Hazzard" arrives thoroughly upstaged by Simpson's cheeky music video for the film. (Given the brevity of her Daisy Dukes, you can take ''cheeky" however you like.) The song is a customized version of ''These Boots Are Made for Walking," and the video farcically suggests, in three-and-a-half minutes, the exuberant musical hoedown the whole thing should have been, right down to Simpson giving the General Lee a sponge bath in a bikini. The movie itself is 100 minutes of anticlimax.
Wesley Morris can be reached at email@example.com.