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Blu-Ray : Highly Recommended
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Release Date: January 30th, 2024 Movie Release Year: 1996

Joe's Apartment - Warner Archive Collection

Overview -

Roaches that talk, sing, curse, dance, and even surf? Leave it to MTV to make a movie that features just that oddball comedy with insects as their first feature film in theaters with Joe's Apartment. Warner Bros. brings this film to their Archive collection with a beautiful new 1080p HD transfer with a wonderful new, sounding DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix. Extras don't consist of anything movie-related but do feature Warner cartoons. Highly Recommended! 


Move from Iowa to New York. Get a place, a job, a girl. Maybe it all can hilariously fall into place when you've got pals who stand arm-in-arm-in-arm-in-arm-in-arm with you! Joe's Apartment, written and directed by John Payson (who expanded his acclaimed MTV short into feature length), is the place for fun when Joe (Jerry O'Connell) discovers he shares it with some prior tenants: 50,000 singing, dancing, wisecracking cockroaches! What bugs Joe is how these cockamamie cucarachas meddle with his romance with lovely Lily (Megan Ward). But he'll eye the world of creepy-crawlies differently when the tiny bugsters turn from hindering to helping – like it or not!

Special Features and Technical Specs:

  • WB Cartoons:
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature

Highly Recommended
Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p/AVC MPEG-4
Aspect Ratio(s):
Audio Formats:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English SDH
Release Date:
January 30th, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


MTV had been a staple for every child, teenager, and young adult in the '80s, showcasing the best rock n' roll and pop music videos the world had to offer. Their popularity grew so big in such a short amount of time, that nobody could go anywhere without mentioning MTV. It was only a matter of time before the music video network got into feature films. And why not get those toes wet with a twisted MTV-approved film called Joe's Apartment, featuring a few great actors and a host of singing, cursing, and dancing cockroaches in NYC? The rest is history for sure as MTV has become one of the biggest networks and film companies out there, but it all started with Joe's Apartment. 

There was a modest budget attached even for 1996 with $13 million attached. But just like Saul Goodman, Keith Richards, and these singing roaches, they're going to stick around forever no matter what criticism or obstacle comes their way. The movie was trashed by critics, topping the worst-of-charts of 1996. Financially, it didn't do any better, only salvaging a fraction of its budget in theaters. So why has this become a cult classic? Simply put, it's a fun, entertaining, and amusing movie with some impressive camera work and visual effects done by the same engine and people as Jurassic Park and Terminator 2 - but with roaches instead of robots and dinosaurs. 

In the film's 80 minutes, it wastes no time with side plots or any real semblance of a story arc that would find its way to eating an Oscar. Joe (Jerry O'Connell) is a fresh college graduate who has moved to New York without any money. He wants to make something of himself and looks for an apartment and finds one for super cheap. It's so affordable because it is inhabited by thousands of cockroaches who talk, sing, dance, and play instruments. The roaches immediately love Joe because he's almost as dirty as they are, providing them with ample trash and feces everywhere. Meanwhile, the NYC senator wants to tear down Joe's apartment to make way for a prison and hires thugs to stomp out the vermin as Joe and the Cockroaches battle each other, the henchmen, and even a feral cat. There's even a love story thrown in with Joe and the senator's daughter for good measure. 

Catch Bryan Chatting About Joe's Apartment & Other Flicks at Fear and Loathing in Cinema 

None of these plot points are sacred and are to only further the next sequence of singing, surfing, and porn-watching roaches to make its audience laugh. But the film has a great sweetness and charm to it where it knows exactly what it wants to be and never deviates. Plus the camerawork is straight out of a Raimi Evil Dead movie, which amps up the Three Stooges-like hijinks created here. Joe's Apartment was ahead of its time by several years and if the same movie were to be released today, it would have had an instant cult following with tons of viral videos circling the airwaves. The film is steeped in Adult Swim comedy and oddball antics with elements of Rick and Morty peppered in, such as the roaches having their own TV channels that star only roaches complete with pornography. The inspiration is all there from Joe's Apartment which has paved the way for the sweet and weird for years to come. And if anyone remembers the sweet movie titled Batteries Not Included, the two films could be siblings if paired together. 


Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Joe's Apartment crawls its way to Blu-ray via the Warner Archive. The dis is housed inside a hard, blue plastic case. The artwork is the same as the original poster for the film. There is no digital code insert. 

Video Review


Joe's Apartment has been gifted a brand new 1080p HD transfer from the Warner Archive from a 4K scan of the original camera negative. And one has to imagine how much fun it was to clean up this print from beginning to end. The results are amazing with a bright, crisp, clean image that never looked so good until now. The color palette is natural and allows for those dirty and slimy colors of browns, off-whites, and oranges to decay on screen. The brown and red roach colors look bolder than ever.

The exteriors of New York are shining silvery skyscrapers with flashes of green gardens and primary-colored flowers. The film grain is intact and gives the movie that nostalgic '90s picturesque look. The detail is now sharp and vivid, revealing all of the textures in the roaches, the stubble on Joe's face, and all of the nasty, rotted food and dirty clothes that are strewn about. The mix of early CGI effects with practical puppetry looks seamless now. There are no instances of dirt or debris left here either, leaving this one amazing-looking video presentation. 

Audio Review


This release comes with a DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix and sounds wonderful. Sound effects are heightening to cartoon levels that make use of the surrounding speakers. All of the creepy crawly bugs sound fantastic and the gunshots pack a punch inside the apartment. Other than those moments, the dialogue is cleanly presented on the front channels. This being MTV, of course, they had to have a killer soundtrack, which they do that includes Green Day, De La Soul, Moby, and much more. Their songs play perfectly on this 5.1 audio mix. There are no issues here and is probably the best the film has sounded thus far.

Special Features


There are NO extras about the film, but instead some Looney Toons cartoons. 

  • Warner Bros. Cartoons (HD, 21 Mins.) - Leave it to Warner Bros. to include old Looney Toons shorts on their discs. The three included here are roaches, Daffy Duck, and Bugs Bunny. 
  • Trailer (HD, 2 Mins.) - The trailer for the film is set here and does not include music or sound effects. 

Final Thoughts

Joe's Apartment is a wacky movie that is beyond comprehension about singing, surfing, and dancing roaches in the Big Apple. But it all works somehow into a charming and witty little film that has some romance and laughs. If it were released today on Adult Swim, it would be nominated for awards and there would be sequels galore. The new 1080p HD transfer looks amazing and the DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix sounds fantastic. The cartoons that come with this movie are hilarious even if there aren't any extras related to the main feature. Highly Recommended!