From the producing team that brought you 'Deuce Bigalow' and 'Big Daddy.' David Spade plays Joe, whose search for his family has him hittin' the road and keepin' it real with every lowlife he meets, including a sweet hottie (Brittany Daniel), a janitor (Christopher Walken), and a psychotic cannibal (Brian Thompson) with whom he has a brief interlude. Through it all, Joe keeps on trucking all the way to L.A., where a shock jock DJ (Dennis Miller) targets Joe as the butt of his show. But Joe's plucky spirit encourages listeners to cheer him on and help him find a better family than the one he thought he wanted. Rock on!
I have plenty of friends who deem 'Joe Dirt' a guilty pleasure comedy classic. As for me, while I'm inclined to clump myself into that same shameful group, I can't. And it's not because I don't laugh my ass off while watching it; it's because there's no shame in my love of this often offensive, politically incorrect, lowest-common-denominator stupid-humor classic. It's gets me laughing like few movies can.
Co-written by star David Spade and (somewhat) co-star Fred Wolf, 'Joe Dirt' is a 2001 Happy Madison production that tells the adventures of its white trashy rock-loving titular character. When he stumbles into the studio of hit Southern California morning radio "shock jock" Zander Kelly (Dennis Miller), Joe (Spade) becomes the subject of a several day on-air arch telling his too-good-to-be-true life story.
As a child, Joe became separated from his parents at the Grand Canyon and has been searching for them ever since. While he recounts his life story, we episodically jump through hilarious sequences that paint a great story. We learn the reason Joe has a beautiful mullet, how he survived on his own all these years, what clues to his parents' identities he has collected so far, where he'd like to eventually end up, how many friends he's collected along the way, and what sort of shenanigans he has found himself in. The "episodes" range in length from a few second to several minutes. Each episode serves a purpose, even if only to introduce unforgettably contributing characters and cast members or to bring about big laughs. The supporting cast includes Brittany Daniel, Adam Beach, Christopher Walken, Jaime Pressly, Kid Rock, Fred Ward and Rosanna Arquette, with Bob Zany, John and Kevin Farley, Hal Fishman (all you Southern California kids know who he is), Carson Daly and Kevin Nealon. As expected, Christopher Walken delivers a fantastic performance as a former New York gangster hiding under witness protection – but a few of the lesser supporting roles are just as fantastic. In specific, Jaime Pressly and Kid Rock absolutely kill it in their equally white trash roles. It's obvious that Pressly landed her 'My Name Is Earl' role due to this performance. And Kid Rock's surprise performance is filled with such perfect comedic timing that I'm surprised that he hasn't returned to do something similar since.
Although there have been very few Adam Sandler-produced movies that I've actually given my stamp of approval, 'Joe Dirt' is one of the strongest. Unlike most, the "stupid guy humor" jokes and gags not only work, but there are some bits that break the "stupid" mold and go for pure comedic genius. To back up this point, I reference the "Buffalo Bob" sequence, which is easily one of the funniest references in the movie and quite possibly the best 'Silence of the Lambs' moment not featured in 'Silence of the Lambs.'
Like many cheap comedies, 'Joe Dirt' suffers from a bad score – but on the flipside, it also features a great fitting soundtrack compiled of the tracks that you can hear daily on any classic rock radio station. Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Seger, The Doobie Brothers, Eddie Money, Joe Walsh, .38 Special, Three Dog Night, Blue Öyster Cult, Cheap Trick and more are included.
As fond as I am of 'Joe Dirt,' I haven't been brave enough to check out the free-to-stream sequel 'Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser' on Crackle. Like the 'Pirates' and 'Hangover' sequels, I'm worried that it will be so bad that it tarnishes my love of the original. Until that day, 'Joe Dirt' will continue to remain as one of my favorite comedies that's so stupid and entertaining that it should have been spelled "stoopid."
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Sony has placed 'Joe Dirt' on a Region A/B BD-25 Blu-ray disc and slapped it in a single-disc Vortex keepcase. A slip is included with a code for the redemption of an Ultraviolet digital copy. Nothing but a skippable Sony vanity reel plays before the static and silent main menu.
'Joe Dirt' has been given a decent little 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode. Being a cheap comedy, I'd expected a completely lackluster transfer, but even with a smaller 25-gig disc, it's not too shabby.
When you first fire up the movie, the Sony vanity reel and Happy Madison title card are going to frighten you. Not only are they noisy and blurred, but they shake all over the screen as if shot by Paul Greengrass. Fortunately, that's only time that noise and jutter occur. Once the feature actually kicks off, those flaws never arise again.
A nice little dusting of grain pops up throughout the movie, but doesn't detract from its potential to be sharp and detailed. Fine details aren't consistent throughout, it's definitely not lacking in that area. Of course, being a 14-year-old movie, there are soft shots – wind-blown hay fields that blob together, mild close-ups of Dennis Miller where his beard lacks definition – but there are also textures and fine details that make their way into the rest of the picture. Pores, patchy trash facial hair and fine lines still appear.
Being a comedy, the palette fittingly bounces around the spectrum with vibrant brightness – especially the primary colors. With specks, grime and an overall murky feel, stock aerial stock footage is the only consistent eye-sore. All other footage is void of aging flaws and damage.
'Joe Dirt' has been given a surprisingly strong 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix. From the moment it opens, the music and effects mixing will jump out and catch you off-guard. As the opening guitar-based track kicks in from all channels with a full and dynamic sound, our first on-screen postcard does a "fly-by" past the camera that's accompanied by a solid front-to-back imaging whoosh. From that opening moment on, the soundtrack (even when filled with its generic "Looney Toons" score) and special effects are great. At the rim of the Grand Canyon, wind images through the space from each speaker. Outside Brandy's house, even though we never see the car that her father pulls up in, we hear it seamlessly image around the surround and rear channels. The music and effects never falter.
The vocal mix of 'Joe Dirt' is also surprisingly strong. No warbling, distortion or aging can be heard and it's dynamically mixed around the space when called for. Additional love has been added to the vocal track to subtly spruce it up. For example, during Joe's in-studio sessions with Zander, if you listen closely to the surround and rear channels, you'll hear the slight echoed delay that you'd hear in a radio studio if you removed your headphones. It's a nice little touch that shows the amount of extra effort that went into this comedy.
Each of the following features can be found on the DVD release of 'Joe Dirt.'
I know what you're thinking right now: 'Did you really just give 'Joe Dirt' a recommended four-star review?' Yes. Yes, I did. And I'm not ashamed of it. 'Joe Dirt' features plenty of the stupid humor that tickles the easiest-to-reach funny bone, but it also features some smart humor that could go right over the heads of the usual Happy Madison moviegoers. The movie has been given a proper video and audio transfer and even includes a couple new special features alongside all of the original DVD extras. I can't vouch for the sequel, but I definitely deem this Blu-ray a recommended purchase - especially at its low price point.