The film was the acting debut of pop singer Jessica Simpson. While financially successful, the film was met with negative reviews from critics. The film was followed by a direct-to-video prequel titled The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning (2007).
Cousins Bo (Seann William Scott), Luke (Johnny Knoxville), and Daisy Duke (Jessica Simpson) run a moonshine business for their Uncle Jesse (Willie Nelson) in Hazzard County, Georgia. The cousins' primary mode of transportation is an orange 1969 Dodge Charger that the boys affectionately refer to as the "General Lee". Along the way, the family is tormented by corrupt Hazzard County Commissioner Jefferson Davis Hogg, widely known as "Boss Hogg" (Burt Reynolds), and his willing but dimwitted henchman, Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (M. C. Gainey).
After Rosco has the General Lee wrecked during Bo's attempt at winning his fifth consecutive local road rally, Billy Prickett (James Roday), a famous stock-car driver, enters Hazzard to participate in the rally. Meanwhile, Rosco plants a fake moonshine still ("'cause he's too dumb to find the real one") in Uncle Jesse's barn and seizes the Duke property in the interest of eminent domain for Boss Hogg, forcing the family to temporarily reside with neighbor and Uncle Jesse's love-interest, Pauline (Lynda Carter). Pauline informs the Dukes that Rosco seized another farm on charges so Bo and Luke investigate a local construction site and find geologic core samples with the help of bait-shop owner Sheev (Kevin Heffernan). Meanwhile, Coltrane makes arrangements to seize the General Lee as "evidence" from the local auto body shop run by the Dukes' friend Cooter Davenport (David Koechner), who instead turns the car into a hot-rod and applies a new paint job and horn, in return for finally getting payment for all the work he has done ("...'cause that's how this works...") for the boys in the past.
After retrieving the General Lee before Rosco can, the Dukes go to Atlanta to visit a local university geology lab, meeting up with Katie-Lynn Johnson (Nikki Griffin), a Hazzard county girl and the Dukes' love interest, and her Australian roommate Annette (Jacqui Maxwell). At the lab, they discover Boss Hogg's intentions of turning the county into a strip coalmine. They are later arrested by Atlanta Police after running from campus police. Back in Hazzard, Daisy learns, with the help of Sheriff Deputy Enos Strate (Michael Weston), that Billy Prickett has been hired by Boss Hogg to participate in the Rally as a ringer. Boss Hogg then heads to Atlanta where he informs the Duke boys, in lock-up, that they are too late to stop him and reveals that the vote on Hogg's proposition is at the same time as the rally, explaining Billy Prickett's involvement. During a transfer from detainment, Daisy helps the boys escape from the patrol car and they speed home to try to inform the townsfolk, escaping Atlanta Police, and the Georgia State Patrol after Bo out-maneuvers the city cops.
Upon returning home, the Dukes discover that Rosco has taken Uncle Jesse and Pauline hostage, an obvious trap for the boys, and that Billy is in on the scheme because he's ashamed of the town's low status. The two race to the farmhouse to cause a distraction to the waiting Hazzard County Sheriff's Deputies and Georgia State Troopers while Daisy and Cooter rescue Jesse and Pauline. Meanwhile, the college girls head to the rally with Sheev to inform the townsfolk about the vote on the strip-mining ordinance. Because of Sheev's armadillo hat and lack of pants, no one listens, so Bo leaves for the rally while Luke and Jesse team up to foil the county and state police who are chasing Bo, interfering with the race. Upon crossing the finish line first, before Billy, the two continue racing back and forth all the way into town, leading the townsfolk to the courthouse just in time to vote against Boss Hogg's proposed ordinance. At the courthouse, Daisy takes advantage of the governor of Georgia's presence and TV cameras to convince him into pardoning the boys, so Uncle Jesse takes the opportunity to knock out Boss Hogg and gets a pardon for assaulting a county commissioner at the same time.
The final scene shows a cook-out at the Dukes' house where Pauline convinces Uncle Jesse, who could not be found because he was "using the meat smoker", to get up and play the television series' main theme. Bo and Luke are romantically involved with the girls in the General Lee when they are caught by Luke's other love-interest Laurie Pullman (Alice Greczyn) from the intro of the film, who proceeds to chase them with a shotgun as they drive away.
During the credits, outtakes from the production of the film are shown.Johnny Knoxville as Luke Duke
Seann William Scott as Bo Duke
Jessica Simpson as Daisy Duke
Burt Reynolds as Boss Hogg
Willie Nelson as Uncle Jesse Duke
David Koechner as Cooter Davenport
M. C. Gainey as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane
Michael Weston as Deputy Enos Strate
Lynda Carter as Pauline
James Roday as Billy Prickett
Kevin Heffernan as Derek "Sheev" Sheevington
Nikki Griffin as Katie-Lynn Johnson
Jacqui Maxwell as Annette
Alice Greczyn as Laurie Pullman
Junior Brown as The Balladeer (narrator)
Joe Don Baker as Governor Jim Applewhite
Barry Corbin as Bill Pullman
Randy Orton as Bo Duke (Stunt double)
All five members of the comedy film troupe Broken Lizard make appearances in the film, classified as cameos except for Kevin Heffernan who had a larger speaking role (Sheev).Broken Lizard cameos
Steve Lemme appears as Jimmy Pullman, the son of Bill Pullman, in an early car chase scene in which he accidentally shoots the inside of his father's truck.
Jay Chandrasekhar and Erik Stolhanske reprise their roles as "Ramathorn" and "Rabbit" from the Broken Lizard comedy, Super Troopers. The characters are now campus security officers, who give a warning to the Duke boys for driving too slowly.
Paul Soter appears as TV newsman Rick Shakely, who is reporting from the Hazzard Road Rally.
Charlie Finn, who played a dimwitted fast food employee in Super Troopers, appears as a dimwitted geology student who assists the Duke boys with the coal samples.
Other notable cameos
During the bar fight scene, Indy-car driver A. J. Foyt IV appears as himself.
Bloopers roll under the ending credits, one of which features Rip Taylor interrupting the bedroom scene with Luke and the two college girls. Taylor had previously appeared with Knoxville in Jackass: The Movie.
Knoxville said he was initially reluctant to take on the role but was persuaded by script changes and the presence of Dan Bradley as stunt coordinator and second unit for the car chase scenes. Knoxville praised him saying "everyone in Hollywood wants Dan Bradley to shoot their car stuff".
The majority of the film was shot in and around Clinton, Louisiana.
The street scenes are set in Atlanta but filmed in the New Orleans Central Business District, and the University scenes on the campus of Louisiana State University.
The film was No. 1 at the box office its opening weekend and grossed $30.7 million on 3,785 screens. It also had an adjusted-dollar rank of No. 24 all-time for August releases.
The film eventually collected $111 million worldwide, although it was much less successful financially outside the United States.
Roger Ebert gave the film one star, calling it a "lame-brained, outdated wheeze" and wondered that Burt Reynolds' part in the film is "karma-wise... the second half of what Smokey and the Bandit was the first half of". Ebert also named it the second worst film of the year and Richard Roeper named it the worst film of 2005.
According to review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 14% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 168 reviews; the website's consensus called the film "A dumb, goofy and vacuous adaptation of a TV show where plot is simply an excuse to string together the car chases." The audience score on the film was "46% liked it". "Top Critics" linked by Rotten Tomatoes who gave the film a "fresh" rating (positive review) wrote for Chicago Review, USA Today, Toronto Star, New York Post, Washington Post, Slate, Entertainment Weekly, and Variety. The film received an average rating of 33% on Metacritic based on 36 reviews. Longtime fans of the original Dukes of Hazzard series were generally disappointed by the film.
At the 26th Golden Raspberry Awards, the film received seven nominations, but didn't win any.Worst Picture - lost to Dirty Love
Worst Director (Jay Chandrasekhar) - lost to John Mallory Asher for Dirty Love
Worst Screenplay (John O'Brien) - lost to Jenny McCarthy for Dirty Love
Worst Supporting Actor (Burt Reynolds) - lost to Hayden Christensen in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
Worst Supporting Actress (Jessica Simpson) - lost to Paris Hilton in House of Wax
Worst Screen Couple (Jessica Simpson & Her Daisy Dukes) - lost to Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell in Bewitched
Worst Remake or Sequel - lost to Son of the Mask
At the People's Choice Awards, Simpson won the "Favorite Song from a Movie" award for her cover of Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'".
The film was nominated for two MTV Movie Awards, including Best On-Screen Team (Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott, & Jessica Simpson), and Sexiest Performance (Jessica Simpson).
Simpson won the Choice Breakout Female award for her role in the film at the Teen Choice Awards.
Before the release of this film, Warner Bros. reportedly paid $17.5 million to the producer of Moonrunners, the movie that inspired the television series. This was soon followed by a claim from screenwriter Gy Waldron. The Hollywood Reporter reported that James Best, who portrayed Rosco P. Coltrane in the original series, filed suit in late July 2011 over royalties he was contracted to receive over spinoffs that "used his identity". Ben Jones, who played Cooter Davenport in the original series, criticized the film for its emphasis on sexual content, suggesting that the original series was more family-oriented and not as sexualized. He called for fans of the television series to boycott the film "unless they clean it up before the August 5th release date."
Some have countered that the original series also contained sexual themes, primarily Catherine Bach's (Daisy Duke) much-displayed "short shorts" (which have become so ubiquitous in American culture that skimpy blue jean cutoff shorts are now often simply called "Daisy Dukes"). In a film review, a New York Daily News entertainment columnist said the movie's sex humor is "cruder" than the TV series, but that it is "nearly identical to the TV series in... its ogling of the posterior of cousin Daisy Duke."
Although initially he commented that he enjoyed the new style of relationship between the movie versions of Bo and Luke, John Schneider, who played Bo Duke in the original series, was later asked if he saw the film and said: "My gosh... it was terrible! It wasn’t Dukes. It was true to whatever it was; I just don’t know what that was!"
Jessica Simpson recorded her own version of "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" (and added her own lyrics) for the soundtrack to the film The Dukes of Hazzard (2005). Performed from the point of view of her character in the movie, Simpson's cover was co-produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and was released as the soundtrack's first single in 2005. It became Simpson's fifth top-twenty single in the United States and its music video drew some controversy because of its sexual imagery. Both the original Ram Jam version of "Black Betty", and the Sylvia Massy produced remake by Spiderbait appear in the film. "If You Want Blood (You've Got It)" and "Shoot to Thrill" are played by AC/DC.
In 2008, an unrated cut restored changes made to get a PG-13 rating from the Motion Picture Association of America. The unrated cut was released on DVD, and included rated and unrated bonus features, including unrated deleted scenes and blooper scenes. This edition was not rated by the MPAA, but would have unquestionably been rated R for nudity, language and violent driving stunts.
A prequel to the film, titled The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning, was released to television on March 4, 2007 and released to DVD on March 13, 2007.