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*Movie review originally written in December 2001

Film
Tim Allen stars as Joe Scheffer who, in the general scheme of things, is a no one, the kind of guy that just seems to blend into the background. He's spent the last ten years of his life working as a video editor for a large drug company and, while he's been promised numerous promotions, none of them ever materialised. Still, he works day in and day out, hoping it's just an oversight and that he'll soon get the promotion, access to the company basketball tickets and, more importantly, some respect. If things weren't bad enough with his work life, his home life isn't going his way either as he still pines for his ex wife Callie (Kelly Lynch) and he has to settle for joint custody of his twelve year old daughter Natalie (Hayden Panettiere).

As it happens the next day is take your kid to work day and Joe is excited to show Natalie around the office. However, before they can make it into the office they need to find a parking spot and the last one is being taken just as they pull up. Joe spots that it's fellow employee Mark McKinney (Patrick Warburton) and steps out to talk to him. Joe explains that this is the "10 Year Lot" and that Mark is ineligible to park here. The argument gets heated and before you know it things escalate to the point where Mark hits Joe, in front of his daughter no less. Mortified, Joe drops his daughter off at school and decides to stay home from work for the time being.

Joe Somebody
A few days pass and it's clear that Joe has no intention to go back to work, so the company sends over a female human resources employee Meg (Julie Bowen) over to his house to try and convince to return to work. Initially it doesn't work but Meg does impart some knowledge that Joe takes to heart. He decides that he's done being a pushover and begins to plot his revenge on Mark. This causes Joe to take a self-defence class so that he can do what Mark did to him. With his new found confidence things begin to look up as he gains the respect of his co-workers and begins getting all the perks he was owed including his own parking spot, a promotion and the much coveted court side basketball tickets. Things are even looking up for him in his personal life as his ex-wife Callie begins to once again notice him. It's not good for Joe though, as Meg preferred the old guy and her boss Jeremy (Greg Germann) is only interested in making sure Joe doesn't sue. As the fight approaches and romance begins things appear to change. Will Joe take on Mark in order to regain his dignity, or is not fighting the better solution?

Joe Somebody is a film that has many problems. First of all the movie is unsure of exactly what message it is trying to send. 90% percent of the movie promotes standing up for yourself at any cost, even if it means resorting to physical violence. Then in the last ten minutes of the film the message changes to the bigger man is the one that doesn't fight. As a result of this mismatch of messages one is left confused as to what exactly we are supposed to think. This causes another problem in that we are left with an ending that, while inevitable, doesn't really fit with the remainder of the film. It's as if for whatever reason the screenwriter was unable to finish and a replacement scribbled the ending without reading the earlier material. Also the film claims to be a family oriented comedy, and while it's family oriented there certainly isn't much comedy. Most of the funny moments were included in the trailer even though the trailer itself didn't come across as being very funny.

Joe Somebody
As for the acting in the picture it comes down to one man and one man alone. That man is Tim Allen, who when given a great character can be extremely funny. The problem is that his character isn't very strong and the material isn't any good. Allen, who was last seen on the big screen in the ensemble piece "Galaxy Quest" and as the voice of Buzz Lightyear in the "Toy Story" films, isn't given anything or anyone one to work with and because of this he sleepwalks through this picture. Julie Bowen, from TV's Ed, is good in her small role as Meg, a human resources worker who dreams of making a difference in a company where it clearly won't happen. Still Bowen has more screen time on each weekly episode of Ed then she does in this whole movie. James Belushi's character is actually pretty funny and by far the strongest in the movie, and James does a good job portraying a washed up action hero. Patrick Warburton basically plays his "Seinfeld" role of Putty in this movie and has a total of maybe five minutes of screen time. Also appearing are Kelly Lynch, Greg Germann (Ally McBeal) and the delightful Hayden Panettiere from "Remember the Titans"

Director John Pasquin, who has worked with Tim Allen many times before both on "Home Improvement” and the films "The Santa Clause" and "Jungle 2 Jungle" seems to be the type of the guy who has a hit then a string of misses. His debut feature "The Santa Clause" was a fun entertaining holiday effort that is one of the better family oriented comedies of the past decade. Sadly "Jungle 2 Jungle" didn't live up to expectations and neither does this one. Pasquin seems uncertain as to what he is trying to accomplish. Is he making a simple morality tale or is he making something solely for entertainment purposes. It doesn't surprise me that screenwriter John Scott Shepard is making his writing debut here as the script isn't very polished and there are no surprises. The script essentially follows a template that can be found in any "How to write a screenplay" book. I don't mind an unoriginal story if there's something unique to it, but that's just not the case here. Let's hope his next outing is better. The same can be said for director Pasquin.

For all that didn't work in Joe Somebody, through some sort of a fluke there were some aspects that did. As a family oriented picture it does work, as what little comedy there is remains fairly clean and never resorts to either foul language or bodily function jokes. There is the also the occasionally funny line from Jim Belushi. The bond between father Joe and daughter Natalie is believable, as is the low-key romance between Joe and Meg.

In a month full of excellent releases "Joe Somebody" will likely be lost in the fray, which in this case isn't a bad thing. The only people likely to see the film will be the ones who truly want to. This was made clear by the low attendance this past weekend at the advance screening. With bigger and better things available Joe Somebody will end up as the nobody it deserves amongst a crowd of somebody’s. Not Recommended.

Joe Somebody
Video
"Joe Somebody" is presented by 20th Century Fox in both 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 pan and scanned transfers. Each version is stored on a separate side of the DVD.  I saw the film back in the theater in 2001 and wasn't really blown away by the film's cinematography, and the same can be said about this DVD transfer.  It's not that the transfer or the film look bad, it's just that the final product is highly unremarkable. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen framing looks good and features an adequate amount of sharpness, though there is plenty of room for improvement. The film sort of suffers from its visual style, which is to bathe everything in colour and give it that somewhat soft and warm look. Problems with the film to digital conversion are few and far between, though there was an ever so slight amount of edge enhancement present in a few sequences. It was just enough to notice it but not enough to distract from the viewing experience. The print used for the transfer was in tip-top shape with hardly any blemishes on it though that's to be expected given the relatively young age of the film. Colours were warm and appealing and never over the top in terms of hues or shading.  "Joe Somebody" was never ever in contention to become a reference disc though it does provide a good if nothing spectacular video presentation. No problems but nothing to write home about either.

Audio
20th Century Fox presents "Joe Somebody" with a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix. Since the film is a family oriented comedy I wasn't really expecting much from the audio track, so once again I was surprised how active the sound field actually was. The film wastes no time before the audio gets into full gear as the opening credit sequence fills the room with its funky musical score. The music in the film really dominates sounding full bodied and coming from all five channels. Aside from the score their is a fair bit of surround sound usage in some of the film's more action packed moments including a few scenes on basketball courts as well as a fun sequence on a racquetball court. During those scenes the surround speakers get a chance to shine as the ball zooms from the back to the front and vice versa. All other aspects of the soundtrack fall into the typical definition of the comedy audio soundtrack with dialogue sounding crisp and clear and the action keeping to the front three speakers. However for a few moments this soundtrack is a pleasant surprise. Certainly not reference material but it's a clean and clear presentation that's a cut or two above the typical comedy mix.

Extras
"Joe Somebody" was a bit of a box office disappointment for 20th Century Fox and while occasionally they'll make a big Special Edition release for a title that hasn't done so well theatrically, this is not one of those times. The special features section of the disc is fairly sparse, containing the prerequisite audio commentary track, which includes director John Pasquin and Producer Brian Reilly, as well as a featurette dealing with the fight scenes. Rounding out the disc are four deleted scenes and the film's theatrical trailer.

Joe Somebody
Overall
"Joe Somebody" was a film that I didn't really like in the theatre and didn't warm up to on DVD. It is a family film but it never really connected on a more adult level. I've seen some family oriented films that are fun for all ages, but this just isn't one of them. 20th Century's Fox's DVD edition features acceptable audio/video quality and a couple supplements. Still, based on the film itself, I can't recommend this disc. If you’re already a fan of "Joe Somebody" then picking this disc up is a no brainer. However if you haven't seen the film then it might be worth checking it out as a rental when there's nothing else available. Otherwise I'd just skip past "Joe Somebody". Don’t worry, most people did.


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