Joe Dirt (2001)

joe dirt IMDb

I believe that everybody has that one dumb comedy that they are inexplicably drawn to. Joe Dirt fills that spot in my collection. And believe me, it is incredibly stupid. But it’s my stupid movie, and I like it.

The best part of Joe Dirt is David Spade. I’ve been a fan since his SNL days, and also enjoyed him on the underrated television series Just Shoot Me. He typically plays snarky, sarcastic pessimists, which is why I love him so much as the titular Joe Dirt. Joe is the exact opposite of his previous characters. He’s down to earth, caring, and wildly optimistic. This is an incredibly sweet character, and Spade plays him with a perfect amount of earnestness. Spade is definitely the main reason I can sit through this, but can hardly stand something like Dumb and Dumber. I have more of a relationship with Spade than I do Jim Carrey.

I also just love how sweet Joe Dirt is. As I’ve already mentioned, Dirt is an optimist, and the story is filled with this same happy spirit. It’s kind of nice to watch something that is purely positive without ever being cynical about it. Sure, Joe screws up all the time, but he rarely lets these setbacks get him down. Everything eventually works out for him and his friends, which is a predictable ending, but who cares? This movie would really suck if Kid Rock got the girl in the end. (Oh, did I not mention that Kid Rock is in this? Don’t let that put you off. He’s brilliantly cast.)

Let’s be honest: a movie like this isn’t winning any Oscars. It’s not even that unique among similar comedies. I fully realize that the plot is formulaic, the premise ridiculous, and the jokes sophomoric. I just find it all the be a perfect storm of funny. There’s just no accounting for taste, I guess.

Rating: B

I really don’t know what to write about this film. I’m a big fan of David Spade, but I feel like he works better as part of an ensemble. His best days were when he played snarky receptionist Dennis Finch on Just Shoot Me, or when he was hamming it up with 90s funny man Chris Farley. Just Shoot Me’s quality began to slip, in my opinion, when the show began to focus too much on Spade’s character. Spade seemed to struggle when the spotlight was firmly on him, and Joe Dirt feels similar. Spade is missing his good friend Farley to help take up some of the screen time. Spade excelled when he could be more of a straight man to Farley’s craziness and I feel like he struggles when most of the laughs are expected to come from him.

Spade plays the titular Joe Dirt, a mulleted red neck whose parents ditched him when he was a boy during a family excursion to the Grand Canyon. After this, Joe travelled America trying to find them, meeting many quirky characters along the way. One day, while working as a janitor at a radio station, Joe is called into the recording room and asked to recount his tale by an intrigued DJ (Dennis Miller). All of America becomes fixated on Joe’s story and the search for his parents.

I will get in trouble for bagging this film because it is one that Sally really enjoys, but I did not find this that funny at all. Spade works best when he is playing a confident sarcastic smart ass, not a dumb hillbilly. I also feel like he probably does not have the talent to carry a film on his own, as he is asked to do here. The supporting cast is fun though. Christopher Walken turns up as a former mafia man under witness protection. I’m not sure how they talked Walken into being in a movie like this, but he is clearly having a good time. I am sure his appearance had something to do with his many appearances on Saturday Night Live and subsequent relationship with the film’s producer Lorne Michaels, though.

There’s not much to say about this film. I did not find Joe Dirt that funny. Spade does not have the star power to carry a film on his own, he works best when is part of an ensemble. That has never been more evident than in something like Joe Dirt.

Rating: D+

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