Joe Dirt

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Joe Dirt Movie Poster Image
Crass, formulaic comedy with bullying, cartoonish violence.
  • PG-13
  • 2001
  • 91 minutes

Parents say

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Kids say

age 13+
Based on 5 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Maintaining a positive outlook on life. Being true to yourself. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

In spite of all his hardships, Joe Dirt does his best to stay positive and live by the expression, "Life is a garden. Dig it." 

Violence

Comedic pratfalls. A combination of fire and a cow's flatulence results in a character's face being burned. Characters use lighter fluid and gasoline combined with Roman candles. A dog is shot and killed with a shotgun. Joe fights a bullying oil rig worker; the worker is killed by burning to death. Joe wears a T-shirt that reads "I Choked Linda Lovelace." Joe is bullied by office workers and shoved into a wall. Characters shoot machine guns. A crocodile traps Joe in its mouth and flings him around. A woman speaks of pushing her husband into a wood chipper. Joe gets covered in human feces and is taken prisoner by a man who dresses in fishnet stockings and makeup and keeps him in a hole.

Sex

References to masturbation and to the body parts of various women. Joe asks to see a woman's "boobies." A sexual encounter between Joe and another woman turns into a joke involving incest; the sex is heard (moaning, creaky bed springs) but not seen. Naked male buttocks when two pilots "moon" Joe from their airplane. A dog mounts Joe's leg and humps it. A dog's testicles are frozen to the porch, and the dog's scrotum is shown stretching as he attempts to free himself.

Language

Frequent profanity: "s--t," "hell," "crap," "suck," "son of a bitch," "p---y." Bullies call Joe Dirt a "queer" and a "retard." Joe calls masturbation "jerkin' my gherkin'." Joe misunderstands a man with a thick Cajun accent and thinks he says he's "seeing homos naked." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Cigarette smoking. Beer drinking. A child finds a can of chewing tobacco while exploring the inside of a garbage can. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Joe Dirt is a 2001 movie starring David Spade as a mullet-sporting janitor in search of his parents. The movie is filled with crass humor; in one scene, a dog's testicles are frozen to a porch and its scrotum is shown stretching as it attempts to free itself. Joe gets covered in human feces, is taken prisoner by a man who dresses in fishnet stockings and makeup and keeps him in a hole, and has his face burned when a cow passes gas into his face. Joe also is called a "queer" and a "retard" by bullies. A sex scene turns into a joke involving incest. There's also frequent profanity, including "s--t" and "p---y," and a misunderstanding in which Joe thinks a man with a thick Cajun accent wants to "see homos naked." Still, in spite of being treated so badly by so many people, Joe manages to maintain a positive attitude and lives by the credo, "Life is a garden. Dig it." 

User Reviews

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Teen, 14 years old Written byAge appropriate guid August 22, 2015
Teen, 14 years old Written byJimmy Brew July 24, 2015

What's the story?

Joe Dirt (David Spade) is a mullet-sporting, classic-rock-loving janitor who works in the offices of a Los Angeles talk radio station. He has left the only real hometown he has ever had, Silvertown, as well as the only person who has ever shown him any real kindness, Brandy (Brittany Daniel), to go on an epic search for his parents, who abandoned him at the Grand Canyon when he was a young boy. A smug and sarcastic talk radio host (Dennis Miller) takes an interest in Joe and has Joe tell him and his listeners the story of his life. Joe tells of his abandonment and all his other instances of ill fortune. Joe's fortune starts to change as listeners begin to be inspired by his ability to remain positive in spite of tremendous hardship. But he hits rock bottom when he believes that Brandy has betrayed him, until he discovers the reason for her betrayal and the real truth about his parents.   

Is it any good?

It's not a great comedy by any stretch, but what keeps JOE DIRT from being just another lame movie are some of the cameos, most notably Christopher Walken and Kid Rock. These brief appearances keep the movie somewhat enjoyable and at least a little funny. Beyond this, the problem with the character of Joe Dirt is that he's little more than a mullet haircut, a collection of vintage classic-rock T-shirts, and some catchphrases. It's a collection of overdone clichés without any substance, so it's hard to determine if the audience is supposed to make fun of Joe Dirt for being an out-of-style, redneck rocker dude or to root for him because the whole world seems out to get him. 

The movie wants to have it both ways: They want the audience to laugh at Joe's stupidity and bad taste in hair, clothing, cars, and music while rooting for him for going through life spouting catchphrases such as "Life's a garden. Dig it." They want humor from the character's clichés but pathos for how badly he's treated because of his clichés. The result falls short of creating a character with a third dimension, and the humor falls short along with it. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about SNL cast members who go on to star in movies such as Joe Dirt. What are some other examples of comedies featuring SNL alumni? Do you think the movies are as funny as the sketches?

  • How is humor taken from moments of violence here? Is real-life violence ever funny?

  • What are some other examples of movies in which violence and "gross-out" scenes are used for the sake of humor? Why do so many people enjoy this type of comedy?

  • Are we supposed to laugh at Joe or feel sorry for him? 

Movie details

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