JOE DIRT (2001)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 31 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Crude and Sex-Related Humor, and for Language

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Directed by: Dennie Gordon

Written by: David Spade & Fred Wolf

Starring: David Spade, Brittany Daniel, Dennis Miller, Adam Beach, Christopher Walken, Jaime Pressly & Kid Rock

JOE DIRT is an absurd and dirty-minded comedy from 2001. Though critically panned upon its release, the film has gone on to gain a cult following and earn enough success to warrant the announcement of an upcoming sequel. Though I’m skeptical of how a new follow-up will turn out (visions of DUMB AND DUMBER TO are flashing through my head), I can safely say that the original JOE DIRT is a special kind of random funny. This is certainly not high-brow or intelligent by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s totally entertaining. This is also one of the best films that David Spade has had anything to do with.

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Joe Dirt is a redneck of unusual origins. Abandoned by his family at the Grand Canyon and stuck with a wig mullet fused to his skull, Joe works as a janitor at a radio station. When a hugely popular talk show host takes an interest in Joe, a series of broadcasts are unleashed upon the unsuspecting public that tell the incredible story of Joe Dirt. The mulleted piece of white trash quickly becomes a hot topic across America as his ridiculous life adventure is revealed through flashbacks. Most of this centers around Joe’s search for a family to call his own, which leads to many encounters with colorful characters and even some dangerous situations.

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David Spade co-wrote the script for JOE DIRT and stars as the main attraction. This was back when Happy Madison hadn’t sunk as low as they have in the past 5 years. Spade does the mulleted, white trash persona right. This is a giant plus because a lot of the film’s success hinges on his performance. While the character of Joe Dirt can be annoying and over-the-top, he’s also purely likeable for the reason that he’s genuine. Sure he’s an idiot and his stupidity doesn’t do him any favors, but Joe’s intentions are pure and his heart of gold is revealed as his preposterous life story goes on. As silly as it may sound, the character of Joe Dirt comes off as a guy I wouldn’t mind shooting the shit with, even if he’s weird and simple-minded.

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The humor of JOE DIRT is crazy and random, but also very funny. Many jokes are completely juvenile and dumb, but there are big laughs to be found in them. This isn’t high brow art and was never aiming to be. There are a couple of scenes that do fall completely flat and the gross-out humor can be excessive at times. Something should be praised is that this movie got me laughing at not one, but two poop jokes. That’s not an easy feat at all. Kid Rock is underused as an antagonist of sorts, but a welcome screen presence. Christopher Walken has a great appearance as a mysterious janitor friend of Joe’s. I also ask you to name any other comedy that sports an unabashedly kick-ass soundtrack, wildly placed jokes that literally come from all over the place, and references to things like SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and Richard Ramirez. These factors help make JOE DIRT a one-of-a-kind comedy, even if its crude nature isn’t for everyone.

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What really sticks out about watching JOE DIRT in this day and age is how surprisingly relevant it is. Arguably, it’s better now than in its theatrical run. In a time where people are famous for being disgusting pieces of human waste or obnoxious fame-seekers lacking any discernible talent, the premise of a guy like Joe Dirt becoming a celebrity doesn’t seem as silly as it did in 2001. I don’t know what that says for us as a society, but it adds an unintentionally hilarious layer to an already funny film. JOE DIRT is crude, dumb comedy and serves its purpose as being damn entertaining! You should already know if JOE DIRT is for you. If this sounds like a waste of your time, don’t watch it. If you’re interested, give it a go!

Grade: B

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