Joe Dirt

on April 11, 2001 by David Lawrence
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   After using his newfound clout as a comedic superstar to help shepherd friend Rob Schneider to success in "Deuce Bigelow, Male Gigolo," Adam Sandler turns his executive producing energies toward doing the same for another former "Saturday Night Live" pal, David Spade, albeit with far less impressive results.

   In "Joe Dirt," Spade stars as a self-made white trash relic of the 1980s, a mullet hairstyle-wearing, acid jeans-sporting, rock-loving, muscle car-driving throwback to the trailer park who has been on his own ever since, as a young boy, his family abandoned him during an Grand Canyon vacation. When his sad story is seized upon by a smart-mouthed drive-time DJ (Dennis Miller), the film shifts into flashback mode, cruising through Joe's weird, disjointed life in episodic fashion. It's a bit like "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" crossed with "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" and filtered through "The Dukes of Hazzard" with "There's Something About Mary"-style gross-out gags sprinkled liberally throughout to help compensate for the superfluity of other jokes that don't work at all.

   Ultimately, it all boils down to yet another standard-issue comedy romance in the proud American tradition of pairing sincere misfit men with unbelievably desirable women--in this case the fetching Brittany Daniel, who plays a beautiful backwater blonde of the Daisy Duke/Daisy Mae variety. It's the kind of couch potato fantasy-fulfillment that has been a reliable staple of the movies for generations, sustaining the careers of everyone from Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin to Bob Hope and Jerry Lewis, not to mention Adam Sandler himself, paying huge box-office dividends in the process. Here, however, the elements simply don't mesh. The execution is so slapdash, the story so haphazardly conceived and so amateurishly executed that by the time things pick up a bit in the final third, most of the core audience will probably have split for the sports bar around the corner.

   One of the few bright spots in the film is the ever-reliable Christopher Walken whose hilarious walk-on as a strange, secretive school janitor with inexplicably fluffy hair not only overpowers the host of other cameos, but serves as a sobering reminder of just how unfunny everything else is by comparison.

   Spade, who co-wrote the film, is clearly a talented performer but scarcely one with the chops to carry a movie by himself. Attempts to boost the film with phony injections of pathos only underscore the film's deficiencies, making the whole thing seem more like a loose, overlong assemblage of leftover "Saturday Night Live" sketch morsels than anything resembling a movie. Starring David Spade, Brittany Daniel, Christopher Walken, Dennis Miller, Kid Rock, Erik Per Sullivan, Adam Beach and Jaime Pressly. Directed by Dennie Gordon. Written by David Spade and Fred Wolf. Produced by Robert Simonds. A Columbia release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for crude and sex-related humor and language. Running time: 89 min

Tags: David Spade, Brittany Daniel, Christopher Walken, Dennis Miller, Kid Rock, Erik Per Sullivan, Adam Beach, Jaime Pressly, Director Dennie Gordon, Producer Robert Simonds, Columbia, Crude-Comedy, Janitor, Mullet, Rock-Loving
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