Jody Hill Is Rebooting Dukes of Hazzard. Maybe. Well, Wait Till He Finishes Writing It and Then Ask

With Eastbound & Down all wrapped up — we’ll always love you, Kenny Powers! — the time is right for Jody Hill, its co-creator, to get back to that dark and twisted movie directing career of his. And he is! As THR reports, Hill’s first big-screen project since 2009’s Observe and Report will be — well, it hasn’t quite been decided what it’ll be. Jody’s signed a deal with Warner Bros. to write a screenplay, for a “stylish action movie in the mold of Sam Peckinpah” set in the 1970s South and revolving around an “outlaw duo,” that he’ll also direct. Also: once he’s all done writing, the powers that be will decide whether or not it’s a new Dukes of Hazzards movie. A totally logical and normal thing to do, right?

Those aforementioned powers include the producer Billy Gerber, who also produced the 2005 Hazzard movie that starred Johnny Knoxville, Sean William Scott, and Jessica Simpson’s butt. Warner’s mind-set here seems to be some Incredible Hulk–with-Norton-style logic: Since no one liked or cared about the first time we rebooted this thing, let’s just do it again real quick and pretend like the first one never happened. And, as unseemly as this quickie remake process may feel to you, they are right. Is there even one lonely soul out there who’d object to a new Dukes on the grounds that the sanctity of Knoxville’s performance must be respected? Plus, attaching Hill to the project makes it seem immediately worthwhile. Considering his knack for deeply unsettling comedy, Theoretical Dukes 2.0 would, one presume, swap out the goofy caricatures for an attempt at offering something harsh and true about the South in the ’70s. Dark and weird all day, baby. Dark and weird all day.

So the real question is: Why would Jody Hill want to make a Dukes of Hazzard movie? It’s quite possible he’s a huge fan of the original. It’s also possible that this strange compromise lets Hill get away with making the kind of movie he wants to make within the studio system. Let’s take a look at his track record: Hill got to make Observe and Report at Warner Bros. after his resoundingly depressing micro-indie comedy The Foot Fist Way became a cult hit. You’d think a guy would brighten things up for his major studio debut. If anything, though, Hill got bleaker on Observe, and the movie — unsurprisingly, as it’s totally great and bizarre and super hard to watch — flopped. Since then, Hill’s gotten to get as odd as he wants to with his buddies Danny McBride and David Gordon Green on Eastbound, and probably felt no need to rush back into a major movie production. Not that he didn’t have any grand plans. Here’s Danny McBride, telling GQ about just one random genius idea the crew had been kicking around:

[McBride] mentions a movie he and Jody Hill wrote a year after The Foot Fist Way, based on the 1997 robbery of a bank in Charlotte, North Carolina. “These rednecks robbed Loomis Fargo for over $17 million,” McBride says. “And they would have gotten away with it, except they stayed in the town they were living in. They literally moved from trailers into the richest neighborhoods in town, lived like kings, bought their wives tit jobs. Jody wants to make it like a southern Godfather.”

This is utter and complete speculation BUT — maybe, tired of getting rejections for his original Southern underbelly ideas, Hill decided to latch onto a preexisting property, one that’d have a much easier time getting made, and then twisting it toward his own strange vision?

Oh, oh last thing: Now that Jessica Simpson is no longer pregnant, she is available to act in this movie! Hooray!

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Amos Barshad has written for New York Magazine, Spin, GQ, XXL, and the Arkansas Times. He is a staff writer for Grantland.

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