ZERO STARS/**** Image A- Sound A- Extras B-
starring Tim Allen, Julie Bowen, Kelly Lynch, Greg Germann
screenplay by John Scott Shepherd
directed by John Pasquin
by Walter Chaw There is no life to Joe Somebody; it is a rotting, derelict husk of a film that drifts anchorless in a sea of dead jokes and plot detritus. It has no excuse for existing, and should be held up as the prime example whenever conversation turns to what's wrong with our culture in general and the movies in particular. Joe Somebody is so sloppily put together that when it comes time at last to end this cinematic thumbscrew, its moments of uplift make little, if any, sense because of the lack of care taken to establish a place for them. If you have a moment to which the entire film is supposedly building, I humbly offer that it's probably not good when that epiphany appears with neither warning nor justification. It's like having a story that is not otherwise about a playwright wrapping up with a playwright having her first play produced. Exactly like that, in fact.
Joe Somebody is an alleged comedy about your average Joe (Tim Allen) getting, as he calls it, "bitch-slapped" in the company parking lot before his 12-year-old daughter's eyes, not to mention several of his colleagues. The perpetrator is brutish co-worker McKinney (a wasted Patrick Warburton), and after a few days of moping around his house, a cute wellness executive Meg (Julie Bowen) pays Joe a visit that inadvertently inspires Joe to grow a spine. Joe calls McKinney and challenges him to a rematch when McKinney's three-week suspension ends. Immediately, Joe's fortunes change: he earns lascivious growls from the office hussy; plays squash with the cool kids; and earns that promotion for which he was previously passed over. Oh, and lest we forget the obligatory raucous karaoke scene. Joe buys a Cadillac, wins the rekindled lust of his ex-wife (an ornamental Kelly Lynch), and takes self-defense lessons from former B-movie actor Chuck Scarett (Jim Belushi). But why can't peacenik Meg and Joe's tree-hugging daughter (Hayden Panettiere) fall in line with the idea of might making right?
Joe Somebody is a bad remake of Three O'Clock High, and by "bad" I mean soon-to-be legendarily so. It takes pains to berate Joe's ex for making kissy-face with her new boyfriend while Joe's around, but ends with a triumphant shot of Joe making kissy-face with his new girlfriend in front of said former wife. It decries bullying, yet it uses the climactic fight as an opportunity for Joe to incapacitate a weaselly exec named Jeremy (Greg Germann), who weighs at least 30 pounds less than Joe. It falls into a stupid dream sequence when no one is sleeping and plays with camera speed and wacky sound effects in the mistaken belief that Benny Hill humour is back in style--or ever was. Characters inexplicably change their essential personalities more often than in a David Lynch film, and it took the drive home from the theatre for me to figure out the sentimental finale. Joe Somebody is an arduous test of endurance and patience: watching it from beginning to end is a Herculean endeavour that should qualify as credit at Marine boot camp, Beijing opera school, or pilates class. Joe Somebody isn't as bad as Glitter, but it's harder to watch--and that's pretty much as bad as mainstream movies can get. Originally published: December 21, 2001.
by Bill Chambers Julie Bowen's cuteness is well-served by Fox's stand-up DVD release of Joe Somebody. Presenting the film in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and full-frame on opposite sides of the disc, the transfers are identically soft but handsome, with flat colours likely by design--Joe Somebody was shot in the manner of a TV movie, which comes as no surprise since "Home Improvement" veteran John Pasquin directed it. Still, no one aspect of the image offends. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is more than serviceable: dialogue, to coin a Walter phrase, is lamentably clear while the score sounds fairly open and the mid-film basketball game (featuring a cameo by Jesse Ventura) successfully deploys the surround channels to recreate the sensation of courtside seats.
As for extras, there are four short deleted scenes--including an omitted monologue that Jim Belushi delivers about Demi Moore--with optional commentary from Pasquin, who neglects to touch on the fact that Belushi and Moore worked together on About Last Night.... A five-minute piece on the "Fight Choreography," such as it is, Joe Somebody's trailer (during which the fake movie posters on the walls of Chuck Scarett's studio are subjected to digital obscuring--not sure why), and a plodding commentary by Pasquin and producer Brian Reilly round out the DVD. I've heard worse yak-tracks, but the pair is less than insightful, more focused on discussions of weather and location than the finished product. For the record, the catalyzing parking lot encounter in Joe Somebody is fabulous; wish it belonged to a better picture.
108 minutes; PG-13; 1.85:1 (16x9-enhanced), 1.33:1; English DD 5.1, French Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Surround; English, Spanish subtitles; DVD-10; Region One; Fox