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Joe Dirt (2001)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 7/7/2015
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/6/2015
As a highly educated person, I have to say that I do like entertainment which has a sense of intelligence. Whether it be a mystery with an intricate plot (with plenty of twists) or a tecno-thriller where it's obvious that the writers did a great deal of research. A project which doesn't make apologies for rewarding the viewer for paying attention and really thinking things through is to be admired. But, when it comes to comedies, sometimes I do like something which is incredibly stupid. Well, stupid but creative. Every year, hundreds of run-of-the-mill comedies are released which don't try to do anything different. Movies like Joe Dirt aren't afraid to be incredibly dumb, but also challenge us with their weirdness.
Joe Dirt introduces us to the titular character (David Spade), who works as a janitor at a Los Angeles radio station. One day, he's invited to sit in on the Zander Kelly (Dennis Miller) radio show, as Zander finds him fascinating, and tell his story. When Joe was a child, his family took a trip to the Grand Canyon, and Joe was left there. From that point on, he lived on his own, moving from place to place, having various adventures, including the discovery of a meteor. One day, he meets a girl named Brandy (Brittany Daniel) and they become friends. Despite the fact that local hood Robby (Kid Rock) tries to scare Joe off, Joe and Brittany become close. But, Joe feels that he must find his parents, and continues on his adventures. Despite the excitement of a hot air balloon and being a carny, Joe never forgets about Brandy.
Given that they worked together on Saturday Night Live for years, it's probably not surprising that Adam Sandler served as executive producer on Joe Dirt. (And you'll spot other SNL alums and friends as well.) But, if you see the film, you'll no doubt notice that the vibe is somewhat similar to Sandler's early movies like Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore, where the story was very loose and the quirky comedy didn't always make sense. Detractors will most likely say that Joe Dirt shares the same sort of lowest common denominator humor that resides in most of Sandler's movies.
But, this is David Spade's movie. Joe Dirt was written by Spade and long-time SNL writer Fred Wolf. If you know anything about Spade, you know that he is on the one-hand a high-brow snob who loves to judge others, while on the other hand someone who has a good idea of what white trash America is up to. It's this seemingly dichotomous nature which gives Joe Dirt the balance of making fun of someone like Joe while never being too mean-spirited. Yes, the movie is a send-up of redneck stereotypes, as we see Joe's love of muscle cars and faux-incest, but it also shows that Joe is a good person at heart. The previews may have made it appear that Joe was simply a brain-dead idiot, which is pretty much is, but the movie also has a very gentle side, which makes it all palatable.
But, enough of all that, let's focus on the fact that Joe Dirt is a very funny movie which actually works on two levels. Sure, there is plenty of slapstick and the expected assortment of PG-13 sex jokes, but we also gets some more clever bits as well. The highlight of the movie is a very odd parody of one of the most popular Best Picture winners of the 1990s, which will even appeal to those who hate every other moment of the movie. From the meteorite to carnival game to the final scene, Joe Dirt is littered with moments which sneak in some subtle humor into everything else. The scene in which Joe meets Kicking Wing (Adam Beach), a fireworks salesman who knows nothing about fireworks, may be over the top, but Joe's speech about fireworks is classic. (And astute viewers should get a kick out of the shirt which Joe is wearing in that scene.)
I can remember hearing about Spade working on a movie called "The Adventures of Joe Dirt" and then, out of the blue, Joe Dirt arrived with little fanfare, although the movie did pull in around $27 at the U.S. box office. Since that time, the movie has garnered a cult following which is small, but still large enough to warrant a sequel, which will be premiering this month. No, Joe Dirt is not an important film, nor is it the funniest thing that David Spade has done (that honor goes to The Showbiz Show with David Spade), but it is funny and has just enough of an oddball nature to make it stand out in the crowd.
Joe Dirt should have put a copyright on the word "Dang!" on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good, but the image does look somewhat flat. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.4 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is a fairly standard track, with a smattering of notable stereo and surround effects. The atomic bomb scene does offer some palpable subwoofer action.
The Joe Dirt Blu-ray Disc contains an odd assortment of extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Dennie Gordon. We then have a second COMMENTARY with David Spade. There is a 3-minute reel of OUTTAKES AND BLOOPERS. The Disc contains seven DELETED SCENES, three of which can be viewed with commentary. Both "The Making of Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser" (4 minutes) and "Joe Dirt - The Return" (4 minutes) cover the sequel, which I have not yet seen, so I did not watch them.
Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long