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Saturday Night Live is often considered a starting point for the careers of comedians. Since the show's inception in the 70s, the list of players on the show reads like a who's-who of modern comedy. Most of the show's cast mates have gone on to achieve some level of stardom. Mike Myers got his star there with characters like Wayne Campbell, Dieter Sprockets, my favorite Phillip the hyper hypo - propelling him into the role that made him an A-list comedian in Austin Powers. Bill Murray got his start on SNL during the late 70's and has gone on to star in numerous comedies including What About Bob, Charlies Angels and this summer's Osmosis Jones. Arguably one of the biggest stars of the 1980's Eddie Murphy was a cast member for four seasons, Billy Crystal spent one, Jon Lovitz five and Chris Rock spent two.

Those are just a few names of stars who broke out however not all of the prime time players have gone on to have massive success elsewhere. Norm McDonald who was fired for apparently not being funny has had 2 bombs at the box office and only a somewhat successful TV series on ABC.  Writer and sometimes player Al Franken tried to take his act to the big screen without much luck in Stuart Saves His Family and Tim Meadows who recently left after an extremely long stretch won't exactly be commanding top dollar after The Ladies Man and his role on the failed Michael Richards sitcom.

Some people would be content with the happy medium, a moderately successful TV series and the occasional movie role. This is the route that David Spade took. First breaking out on to the big screen alongside his friend and SNL co-star, the late Chris Farley. Spade had audiences cracking up in Tommy Boy and Black Sheep. Spade and Farley were a  match made in heaven and it looked there would be years and years of buddy pictures featuring the unique twosome. However Farley's tragic death in 1997 put an end to this and Spade decided to take his act to the small screen eventually landing in the NBC Sitcom Just Shoot Me. Spade didn't stray far from the big screen though making cameo type roles in 8 Heads and A Dufflebag,  Senseless and Loser as well as providing his voice talents to the Rugrats movie and Emperors New Groove. Spade did take one lead role in the film Lost and Found - a film that didn't find it's mark at the box office. Now Spade tries again to become a leading comedy star in Joe Dirt.

Joe Dirt
Movie
Joe Dirt (David Spade) is a janitor at a popular Los Angeles Radio station where the syndicated program "The Xander Kelly" show is broadcast each and every day. Joe is content with his place in society mopping the floors and living out of the station's boiler room. One day while scrubbing the floors, Joe gets into an argument with two employees when a producer for the show comes out to tell the men to be quiet as the show is on the air. The producer is intrigued by Joe's appearance (Joe looks like the typical white trash trailer park junkie of the 70s) and  invites Joe into the studio to talk to Xander (Dennis Miller) on the air. Xander goes to town on Joe mocking his haircut, his attire and his job. Looking for a way to fill some airspace Xander  asks Joe questions about his life. It turns out Joe's had a rough life as he's been searching for his parents ever since the left him at the grand canyon at the age of 8. Joe didn't have much to  go on as he couldn't even remember their last name. Well as everyone knows this kind of story always tugs at the hearts of listeners and before you know, Joe's become a minor celebrity.

After a rough string of stays at foster homes and even a short stint in a state run home for juvenile offenders. Joe manages to find his way to the postcard town of Silvertown. It's here where Joe lives in the woods on the outskirts of the city. Only venturing into town to steal what he needs from local  residents. One night while attempting to acquire some auto parts from a house in the woods, Joe notices a dog with a problem. He helps the dogs owner a lovely country girl named Brandy (Brittany Daniel - TV's Sweet Valley High) get her dog out of the sticky situation. From this  point forward Joe, Brandy and Brandy's dog Charlie are inseparable. Meanwhile the town bully Robbie (Kid Rock) is interested in Brandy and warns Joe to stay away. Brandy doesn't want anything to do with Robbie as she loves Joe. However like all relationships, something happens and Joe has to reevaluate his priorities.  So Joe is on the open road once again but this time all he can think about is Brandy. Along the way Joe meets some friends and foes including a serial rapist named Buffalo Bob, a heroic school janitor Clem (Christopher Walken), a girl who he thinks is his sister (Jamie Pressly).

David Spade is Joe Dirt someone who looks like he just stepped out of the 70s. He's into classic rock not Disco and is very likeable in that weird sort of way. While I'm still not sure Spade can carry an entire film on his own, this is the closest he's come thus far. I think Spade works better in small doses or when he has someone to play off. Tommy Boy remains the highlight for me. Spade who appears as part of an ensemble cast on NBC's Just Shoot Me is funnier there because his character isn't the central focus. Dennis Miller plays a good talk jock here with shades of his earlier performances in The  Net and what I feel was the same level of his camp filled humor career Bordello of Blood. Dennis will never be a great serious actor but he does seem to pick the roles that suit him well and  doesn't try to play something out of his limited range. Brittany Daniel who is best known to men everywhere as one of the two twins on the TV version of the Sweet Valley High novels is fine here but doesn't really break any new ground in the token female role. Christopher Walken who can't seem to do anything wrong is hilarious in his small role here as a middle school janitor who  helps Joe out. Christopher has been spot-on recently in everything he's done from his role here to his role in America's Sweethearts and of course the starring role in the funniest music video in a long time. Weapon of Choice by Fatboy Slim. It's about time someone wrote a starring comedy vehicle for Chris Walken - now that's a comedy I'd pay to see.

Director Dennie Gordon who is making her directorial debut here, works off a script by Fred Wolf and David Spade. Dennie does the best she can with the material but for the most part there isn't much that can be done. Joe Dirt is a comedy that is fun while you're watching it but after it's over there's nothing much to remember. I enjoyed Joe Dirt for what it is, a check your mind at the door 90 minute distraction from the real world. While Dirt is funny at times it's not consistently funny. If you ask me about Joe Dirt in a  couple months I won't really remember much about it. The jokes just aren't memorable the way the gags in Tommy Boy or Wayne's World are. Joe Dirt is an uneven comedy with moments of brilliance sprinkled into a mediocre film.

Joe Dirt
Video
When you pop in the DVD for Joe Dirt you are immediately given the option to watch this film in either a butchered full frame presentation or as the director intended in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. I think it's safe to say that widescreen is the way to go here. When I think  back to April when I saw the adventures of Joe Dirt in the theater I remember not being overly impressed with the visual aspect of the film. It wasn't an issue related to the theater or screen I saw it on, but just that the film had a very boring look to it. Columbia has managed to do a top notch job on Dirt, improving upon the rather weak theatrical look. The image is very detailed and  sharp and picturesque when it needs to be. Colors are strong and vibrant and often burst off the screen something not present at the theater. However this disc isn't without it's problems in the video department either, as some slight edge enhancement is present. In addition, pixelation and  shimmering can be seen on the occasional brick building in the picture.  Though Joe Dirt isn't the disc that screams demo disc, the video transfer here is very appealing.

Audio
You never know with a comedy what type of audio experience you're going to get. Recently I've heard some pretty creative comedy mixes as well as the usual front heavy tracks that could be passed  off as mono if not for their one or two token uses of the surrounds. Historically comedies haven't been surround heavy affairs and while Joe Dirt won't change that it does sound quite good in Dolby Digital 5.1. Joe Dirt is a dialogue heavy affair with a pretty good sound mix even if it doesn't really venture into any new territory... Sound effects and music stay pretty close to the front except for the occasional cool panning effect. Dialogue is easy to understood and well balanced for a Columbia mix. Typically speaking it seems that Columbia uses some dialog  normalization on their discs but that doesn't seem to be the case on this disc. The 70's classic rock soundtrack sounds like it was recorded yesterday. The LFE channel is used effectively to add a good amount of bottom end to the music as well as during a few of the film's bigger action sequences.  Just like the video transfer, I doubt people will spin up Joe as a demo disc but the audio here is stronger than one would expect from this sort of movie.

Joe Dirt
Extras
While not labelled as a "Special Edition" Columbia Tristar has put a lot of effort into the bonus  materials section of this disc by including not one but two audio commentaries.

Commentary # 1 is a solo track with the film's co-writer and star David Spade. Since the days of Tommy Boy I've been a fan of Spade's work and was eagerly awaiting listening to this track since the day I heard about it. To let the truth be told I was expecting a funnier, more outrageous type of commentary track than the one on this disc. Spade goes through the movie providing the listener with a number of funny stories that may or not have happened during the filming of this flick. Spade does offer a few insights into the movie making process but for the most part this is just a track of Spade telling jokes in a low key style. I guess when I see that a disc will  have a track from a comedian I find funny I get my hopes up for a Kevin Smith style commentary and that just wasn't the case here. I do give Columbia Tristar props for reeling in Spade to  comment on his first big solo film project. The track is worth a listen once but I don't see myself revisiting this track again in the future.

The second commentary track is another solo effort, this time from Director Dennie Gordon. Dennie takes a more serious approach to her track sharing production tidbits and stories from the set.  She takes her track more seriously than Spade (it's not hard) and gives a basic overview of what it was like to make her first movie. A veteran of many TV shows Gordon does pause occasionally during her track but at least she doesn't go into pat the actor and actresses on their back mode  something that I for one am getting tired of hearing. Not a perfect track by any means but interesting enough for a one time listen.

Also included are a total of 7 deleted scenes the first 3 of which contain optional audio commentary from director Dennie Gordon. For whatever reason the commentary is not available for the last 4 which are contained on a somewhat hidden second page. I had to really look closely at the menu to find the link to the second page.

In typical Columbia fashion we have a gallery of trailers for some of their similarly themed movies. Included on Joe Dirt we have trailers for Tomcats, Can't Hardly Wait, Loser and Saving Silverman and of course Joe Dirt. All trailers are presented in 1.85 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes.

Overall
Joe Dirt is a by the numbers comedy that is fine when your watching it but at the end leaves you wanting more. Columbia presents Joe Dirt with excellent audio/video quality and a fair amount of special features. If you're a fan of the movie then this disc won't disappoint. Otherwise I'd recommend giving Joe Dirt a rent.


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