By Bill Arceneaux
The thoughts that come to mind when I read the mashup word “hicksterical…” I emphasize read, as if I were to hear that “word,” I might take a swing at the mouth it came out of. It’s the combination of hick and hysterical, in a sad attempt to relate to or make fun of the audience that wholeheartedly supports Larry the Cable Guy and the like. Corny to say the least, confounding to state the obvious. Confusing? Yeah, a little bit of that too.
Such is the mentality going into and coming out of Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser.
David Spade has… finally? … brought the… beloved? … character Joe Dirt back to the screen. Not the big one, mind you. The small one. The one fit for VOD reruns of Blue Mountain State and Sports Jeopardy. Accessible on any device, anywhere an internet connection can be made. Sure, I can imagine riots breaking out 15 minutes into a proper theater screening, but on the plus side, at least we’d have a few months of the film being restricted to specific locations. With its digital release, the potential for coming across any whiff of it is inescapable. It’s like a real-life Skynet a.k.a. Genisys. Judgment Day is here, but without a bang and only a loud whimper.
Hung up on the flimsy framework of a Forrest Gump bench talk gag, the movie takes Joe from blissful family life to a time traveling tornado scenario, one where he must learn the true meaning of Christmas. Or something. Directly stated references to It’s a Wonderful Life and Back to the Future are made often enough, in between poorly delivered fart and nutsack jokes. Joe meets up with familiar faces from the original story, in brief and pathetic cameos. Pathetic might be the best word of all to describe this project. Time shifts around so rapidly and narrators change so frequently, and it’s a wonder that the snapping seams weren’t popping out of the TV and into my eyes.
Joe Dirt 2 has all the energy of a lethargic turtle on antihistamines. It’s rare to see a movie too lazy to get out of bed. Its editing is non-existent, cut not out of concern for pacing, timing or holding attention, but possibly so that someone could list “editor” on their resume. There is absolutely no momentum to any scene. Was I watching the b-roll footage? Music-less and un-engaging, all this movie has up its sleeve are its actors and its jokes. And neither are given the time of day to develop.
Anchored solely on the shoulders of David Spade, the movie fails oh so miserably. Now, it’s not really his fault, as there is a commitment to the role on his end. There’s just nothing and nobody to bounce off of, and no skill to dress up the rough edges of the script. Imagine a live table read with actors in costume and on set and the producers decided just to film that to save money and time. Considering they gave this movie away on Crackle with limited ads from Arby’s, maybe they made the right decision if true.
Joe Dirt isn’t what I would call a cult classic, but it was a film with dynamic rhythm, genuine purpose, and even a sweetheart. Certainly, if a sequel HAD to be made, on a small digital service budget, something creative, inventive and funny COULD’VE been done. Little resources are no excuse for little craft, even for the “hicksterical.”
1 / 5 *s
For more from the author, follow him on Twitter @BillReviews, visit his blog CriticalNO.com and support his work at Recurrency.us/members/criticalno