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Imagine for a moment that Auto Trader magazine sends Joe Dirt a questionnaire asking him to write down what he most likes in life. His answers would have to include at least a few of the following: Lynyrd Skynyrd, cigarettes, tank tops, Eddie Money, chain-link steering wheels, Van Halen ("not Van Hagar"), ripped-up jeans, fast cars and faster women. That’s our hero, Joe Dirt. Every possible stereotype for those the movie dubs "white trailer-trash" is used, abused and used again. Seeing Joe’s mullet hairstyle, a radio D.J. ribs, "[Are] you so ingrained with white trash DNA that your facial hair grows in all white trashy like that?"
Dumped and abandoned like a paper plate of half-eaten Nachos at the Grand Canyon when he was only eight years old, Joe Dirt bounced around abusive foster homes the rest of his childhood. As an adult he doesn’t fare much better. Odd jobs keep him alive. A chunk of meteoric rock is his only friend (and even that mass of inert matter eventually lets him down). Poor Joe Dirt. He’s called "retarded," "stupid," "queer," "dirty," and a "waste." But Joe doesn’t despair. He won’t give up. He knows that if he tries hard enough, good things will happen. And the way he figures it, the best way to get on the right train is to hop a freighter and go look for his long-lost parents.
positive elements: Joe’s positivity in the face of adversity regales all common sense and reason. On one level it’s just plain silly. On another, it’s a great moral lesson for despondent teens. And Joe Dirt knows it. The movie actually moralizes on its own moral lessons. Tongue-in-cheek to be sure, but the message remains. Joe’s quest to find his parents leads him on a crazy journey around the country. It also leads moviegoers to a singular truth: Parents serve more than a biological function. They can make or break a young person’s life by how they act, how they think and how they raise—or don’t raise—their kids. Also, friendship is celebrated and picking on the "dumb kid" is condemned.
spiritual content: Profane at best. Joe says one of his foster moms used the threat of Jesus coming back to keep him from masturbating ("You don’t want to be doing that when Jesus comes back do you!")
sexual content: Innuendo and sophomoric titillation rule much of the film. It includes jokes about masturbation, homosexuality, bestiality and incest. Several girls show lots of cleavage. Joe flaunts his body too, posing seductively (sans shirt) for a lady at a carnival. The pair end up in bed, their sexual activity so rambunctious the shack they’re occupying pitches and rolls like a catamaran at sea. The encounter takes an even darker turn when Joe reveals that he thinks the woman is his sister (she’s not). Holding a town hostage with an atom bomb strapped to his back, Joe uses his new-found power to force a woman to take off her shirt. "Show me your b--bies," he says (audiences catch a brief glimpse from the side).
Equally disturbing is a scene which spoofs 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs by portraying Joe held captive by a psychotic, cross-dressing killer. Crude jokes are later loosed about how the man sexually mistreated Joe.
violent content: Cartoonish violence throughout. Joe gets pushed around. Hit. Thrown. Beat up. And bullied. Then one of the men who beats him up gets his comeuppance when he’s engulfed in flames after urinating on a fire. A young Joe ties bottle rockets to cows’ tails and lights them. An older Joe shows another man how to mix up a big bang with lighter fluid, gasoline and bottle rockets. Then, in a dream, he imagines setting off a nuclear explosion which vaporizes the man. Gunfire punctuates a couple of scenes. Joe gets bitten by a crocodile after putting his head into the beast’s mouth. A bungee cord accident results in a serious head wound (from which Joe recovers quickly). Joe's girlfriend, Brandy, has a drunk father who gets his foot caught in a train track right before a train rattles by (he's shown later missing a leg).
crude or profane language: A half-dozen s-words are laced through a bevy of sexual slang and "hillbilly" profanities. About 15 misuses of the Lord’s name.
drug and alcohol content: A joke about "bong water." Joe smokes cigarettes. Brandy’s father is an unrepentant drunk, shown downing cans of beer. Joe gets high when he inhales too much insecticide. It’s implied a couple of times that Joe chews Skoal (once he quips that he gives a girl a mouthful when he kisses her).
other negative elements: Flatulence humor and sight gags that center on excrement invade viewers’ sensibilities several times. Also, one painful scene depicts a dog trying to free his testicles which have been frozen to the floor. Joe and Brandy use warm water and a spatula to assist him.
conclusion: Just foul enough to make you squirm. Just funny enough to make you want to pretend its all okay. Just Shoot Me’s David Spade pulls off the Joe Dirt acting thing cleanly, it’s the script he wrote that stinks. A few feel-good moral lessons are never reason enough to wallow in Spade’s sorry brand of humor—on TV or at the movies. Bury Joe where it belongs. In the dirt.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
David Spade as Joe Dirt; Brittany Daniel as Brandy; Dennis Miller as Radio D.J.; Adam Beach as Kicking Wing; Christopher Walken as Clem; Jaime Pressly as Jill; Kid Rock as Robby; Erik Per Sullivan as Little Joe Dirt