Joe Dirt (2001)
Directed by Dennie Gordon
Cast: David Spade, Brittany Daniel, Dennis Miller, Adam Beach, Christopher Walken, Rosanna Arquette, Jaime Pressly, Kid Rock, Erik Per Sullivan, Caroline Aaron.
2001 92 minutes
Rated: (for profanity and sexual situations).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, April 11, 2001.
"Joe Dirt" is woefully unfunny. Directed by television alum Dennie Gordon (in his feature film debut) and executive-produced by Adam Sandler, it is another halfhearted attempt to inundate audiences with bathroom humor and dog-humping jokes. The only problem is, these jokes are, by now, getting moldier than three-month-old bread, and it has a watered-down PG-13 rating. Every physical joke and every line of dialogue that is supposed to be humorous are both predictable and boring. I didn't laugh, or lightly chuckle, or even smile, once throughout the duration of "Joe Dirt," and it takes a really, really bad comedy to achieve such a dubious feat.
Joe Dirt (David Spade) is a radio station janitor in Los Angeles with a cheesy mullet hairdo straight out of the '70s. Living in the building's boiler room, lightning strikes one day when he finds himself on the air with "tell-it-like-it-is" radio personality Zander Kelly (Dennis Miller), unspinning his fascinating life story, from the moment when he was abandoned by his trailer trash parents at the Grand Canyon when he was eight, up until the present day, circa twenty years later. Passed along from one wacky foster family to the next as a child, Joe has spent his adult years desperately searching for the whereabouts of his parents, who have seemingly vanished into thin air. Amidst it all, he lost touch with the one person who ever really cared about him, Brandy (Brittany Daniel), a fetching young woman who is about to marry the oily Robby (Kid Rock) by default.
An uninspired road-movie-cum-love-story, "Joe Dirt" leaps from one comic setup to the next, without any actual care for the story at hand, or the fact that the comedy is D.O.A. David Spade (1999's "Lost & Found"), who also acts as co-writer to the episodic screenplay, can be a charming performer, but he tries too hard here to be like fellow comedians Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider. In the process, he flounders in a story that would be above the most listless actor in Hollywood.
Cameos are prevalent, perhaps to make up for the lacking material, as they include everyone from Christopher Walken (what is he doing her?), to rapper Kid Rock, to Rosanna Arquette. The only person who permeates any sort of cinematic screen presence is Brittany Daniel (a former recurring actor on TV's "Dawson's Creek"), as the sweet Brandy, who makes for an attractive love interest. Daniel's scenes, and one admittedly clever vignette in which Joe is captured and put into a well by a cross-dressing serial killer with a white-haired poodle, a 'la "The Silence of the Lambs," are the only elements that raise "Joe Dirt" above being utterly worthless. The classic rock soundtrack, including Blue Oyster Cult's "Burnin' for You" and Bachman Turner-Overdrive's "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet," isn't bad, either.
There are so many things wrong with "Joe Dirt," however, that these passing bright spots are only cause for cursory interest. The whole of the film is birdbrained and silly, and doesn't work for a second. Likewise, director Dennie Gordon shows no flair for filmmaking, unable to set up even the most simple jokes for an acceptable payoff. "Joe Dirt" aspires to be the next "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo" or "Dumb & Dumber," but it ends up landing closer in quality to "Billy Madison" and "Black Sheep."
©2001 by Dustin Putman