Joe Dirt (PG-13)

Review Date: April 26th, 2001

David Spade is fun-lovin' Joe Dirt, a guy who marches to the beat of a very different drummer. He has a mullet hairdo, wears acid-washed jeans and thinks life is a garden (dig it?). Unfortunately, the film is an extremely uninspiring road trip comedy.


One day, Joe Dirt, a radio station janitor, gets dragged onto a popular radio show where the host (Dennis Miller) at first browbeats Joe but then becomes intrigued as Joe tells his life story on air--and so do the listeners. Apparently, little eight-year-old Joe got separated from his parents in the Grand Canyon, and the boy sets out to try and find them. Through his travels, he is ridiculed to no end for his rocker hair (which is actually a wig fused to his head; it's too lame to explain--just go with it) and style of dress as well as his unique view of the world, which is fairly optimistic considering how messed up his life has been thus far. He meets some friends along the way, including an American Indian (Adam Beach) who sells weak fireworks by the side of the road; a mobster (Christopher Walken) who is under a federal witness protection plan; and his one true love, Brandy (Brittany Daniel), a sweet down-home girl who lives in the perfect town, Silvertown. But it's his quest to find his parents that drives him onward until he eventually discovers the truth.


David Spade…Dennis Miller…Christopher Walken? One would think that with this kind of talent attached to the film it would actually have a funny moment or two. But alas, that is just not the case. Spade trying to play a white trash hick without any of his sardonic eyebrow raising simply misses the mark. He may be trying to break from his usual sarcastic shtick, making the character Joe Dirt a sympathetic simpleton whose sheer kind-hearted spirit makes positive things happen to him, a la Forrest Gump, but it's not in any way believable. Sarcasm is Spade's trademark, and he needs to stick with it. It seems all the sarcasm is poured into Dennis Miller's cocky radio show shockjock. But his usual witty repartee comes off as obnoxious and over the top. Walken is as quirky as ever, which neither harms nor helps the film (although he gets to do some fancy dance moves at one point). And singer Kid Rock might be kicking himself for choosing Joe Dirt as his first feature film.


Only by the power of Adam Sandler, who was the executive producer, did this film get made, one would guess. The script can't decide whether it should go for all out, gross or romantic comedy. Spade, who co-wrote the film, can't be counted on to carry a film by himself, since his last film Lost and Found (1999) was a complete disaster. Still, at least that film had some redeeming qualities since Spade did what he does best-play the smart-ass little guy who gets the girl. In Joe Dirt, the character comes off only as pathetic, and the lessons he is supposedly teaching the rest of the country mean nothing.

Bottom line

Your time might be better spent staying home and playing in the dirt.