Joe Dirt (2001)

I probably could have written this review without actually ever seeing Joe Dirt. David Spade, teaming up with Adam Sandler and Fred Wolf (writer for SNL, Black Sheep, Dirty Work, and Little Nicky), have put out yet another movie of five minute skits tied together with a loose plot. And unfortunately, like most of these movies, if you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve already seen most of the good parts.

Joe Dirt, a custodian at a LA radio station, is spotted by the station’s morning talk DJ (Dennis Miller). Miller, who has to kill four hours of on air time each day, drags Dirt into the studio and puts him on the air to make fun of him. When Dirt (who has changed his name to Dirte’ (pronounced Deer-tay)) begins telling his life’s history to Miller on the air, the listening public begin to take interest in Dirt’s story. Miller has Dirt back to the show several days in a row, as his story begins to boost ratings.

The majority of the story is told as flashbacks that Dirt tells Miller while on the air. During the movie, I kept wondering to myself why Dirt makes himself look like a complete ‘tard in every story. Even in the flashbacks and stories where people AREN’T kicking his ass, he still comes off looking slow and stupid.

As I stated before, the movie basically consists of five minute skits presented to the audience as flashbacks. Some of the sketches move pretty quickly, like when Dirt gets a job at an alligator farm (the whole skit’s payoff, where Dirt is bitten and spit out by a large ‘gator, is shown in the preview). Other skits, like when Dirt (as a child) finds a “meteor” and drags in around in a little red wagon talking to it seem to last forever (that skit’s payoff, the “meteor” actually being a chunk of human waste that was expelled by a passing airplane and froze on it’s way to Earth, is also shown in the trailer). With so many of the movie’s jokes spoiled by the trailer, it’s almost like having a friend constantly telling you five minute long jokes that you already know the punchline to.

If you were a fan of There’s Something About Mary’s beans and franks joke, and thought Scary Movie raised and not lowered the bar of comedy by showing a dangling nut sack, you’ll get a kick out of Joe Dirt. You’ll get 10 shots in 2 minutes of a dog’s nuts frozen to a front porch (of course they stretch each time he tries to leave the porch, or it wouldn’t be funny now, would it?) You’ll get dogs humping poor Joe. You’ll get incest jokes. You’ll get people covered in feces. You’ll get “lighting farts on fire” jokes. You’ll get all kinds of stuff that will make you cringe. PG-13 has a new meaning – everyone under 13 in the theater was laughing hysterically, and everyone over 13 was either blushing, busy being embarassed about laughing, or slinking down even further into their seats.

It becomes obvious to everyone but Joe through the film that he was intentionally left behind at the Grand Canyon by his parents. Still, after 25 years, Joe feels the need to find them. The last 30 minutes of the movie focus on the resolution of his search, but you shouldn’t really care – this is just the stuff tacked on to the end to make this string of punchlines seem like a movie. Rest assured that the good guy will get the girl, the bad guy will get left in the dust, and everyone will live happily ever after – mullet or not.

On the way home from the movie, two buddies of mine and I sat around shot holes through the plot. At one point in the plot, Dirt runs into a nice old woman who decides to sell him her Hemi convertable for what he has in his pocket (chump change, at best). Why?

The whole plot of the movie is based off the fact that Joe cannot remember his parents last name. He remembers a conversation with his little sister where she says “Daddy hated you, that’s why he calls you Joe Dirt.” Dirt gets separated from his parents when he’s 8. He’s 8? And doesn’t know his parents last name? Why? This isn’t nit-picking, this is the crux of which the entire plot sits.

Speaking of Dirt’s sister (which is shown in every flashback of his childhood), where is she? The parents turn up, but no sister. You can’t set up a joke with no payoff. I’m sure somewhere there’s a scene with her on the cutting room somewhere.

At one point, an oil rig worker, after kicking Dirt’s ass, walks over and pee’s on a fire (for no reason whatsoever). Is this considered normal behavior in the oil field industry? The fire runs up his urine stream and ignites him on fire, all while Dirt smirks. Hee hee, people burning to death = co-me-dy!

Most disturbing (and upsetting) to me was the scene where Dirt and Kicking Wing (an Indian Friend he meets during his journey) fill a washtub full of lighter fluid and shoot Roman candles at it. The most disturbing thing about the scene was that I’ve never thought of doing this. I give Spade 2 months tops before some kid blows his house up copying this stunt and sues his ass.

Overall, the movie was okay. The jokes work okay and the plot is a way to tie them together, nothing more. Christopher Walken, Brittany Daniel, Rosanna Arquette, Jaime Pressly and Kid Rock all do a good job of acting like white trash. Erik Per Sullivan (Dewey, from Malcom in the Middle) does a good job as little Joe Dirt as well. Dennis Miller does a good of playing, well, himself. The movie’s soundtrack is a medley of 70’s guitar rock which I really enjoyed. If you liked The Wedding Singer’s constant barrage of 80’s memorabilia, you’ll love Joe Dirt’s constant tribute to butt rock – AC/DC shirts and Def Leppard posters appear at every turn. Muscle cars, mullets, and goatees appear at every turn.

David Spade was genius when paired up with Chris Farley, and makes a valient attempt here at carrying an entire film, but the challenge of making the orphaned Dirt likable may be too much for even the Great Sarcastic One. Spade is funniest when slashing down people with his quick wit, something we never get to see in Joe Dirt. Spade stretches out here and plays a new style of character here, one that for the most part made me wistfully remember how funny he “used to be.”

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