We all miss Chris Farley, the late comedian and SNL vet who left this world before his time. By the looks of “”Joe Dirt,”” though, there’s no other person on the face of the planet who misses Farley more than his one-time best friend, David Spade.
In his roughly five-year run on “”Saturday Night Live,”” Spade was best known for his “”Hollywood Minute”” commentaries and jaded, aloof characters like his annoying secretary or the stewardess who can’t wait to dismiss an airplane full of passengers. He never really cultivated a successful recurring character, however, which gave him the freedom to avoid the trappings of an “”SNL”” feature film and come up with something completely creative and different.Instead, Spade gives us Joe Dirt, a mullet-sporting redneck who was abandoned by his parents at the age of 8 while vacationing at the Grand Canyon. Young Dirt, whose mullet is actually a wig that was glued to his head when he was born without a piece of his skull – believe me, it’s just not worth explaining – has dedicated his life to finding his real parents. His quest takes him across the country by way of Louisiana, New York City, Silvertown, Idaho (where he meets the girl of his dreams) and finally, to Hollywood. It’s here that we first meet up with Joe, who’s working as a janitor at a radio station and pouring his story out on-air for condescending syndicated talk show host, Zander Kelly (Dennis Miller).When gifted comedians Spade and Farley collaborated on “”Tommy Boy”” and its inadequate follow-up, “”Black Sheep,”” they carefully bounced razor sharp jokes off of each other with an unparalleled zest, mostly at the expense of Farley’s insecurities. Left to his own devices, though, Spade fails to milk even 90 minutes worth of jokes out of a premise ripe with potential. Redneck jokes are far too easy, especially when you’ve cast the Emperor of White Trashdom, Kid Rock, in the role of Dirt’s arch-enemy, Robby. But the laughs just never come.””Dirt”” even establishes the right tone initially, begging the audience to sympathize with Joe by making him look like an unsuspecting victim of cruel fate. When Joe is bullied by his co-workers, they come off looking wicked and Joe the hero. This approach is all to familiar from Adam Sandler’s body of work (especially “”The Waterboy”” and “”Happy Gilmore””) and it’s no surprise that “”Dirt”” was produced by Sandler’s company, Happy Madison.If only Sandler could have contributed some jokes. “”Dirt”” makes Sandler’s film’s look like “”Some Like It Hot.”” Maybe next time, Spade’s buddy can contribute a witty joke or two instead of piles of cash to front this type of mess.Grade: D-THE EXTRASYou might think that the extras would feature a joke or two that wound up on the cutting room floor, but even these are bland and humorless. The only funny thing is how many extras are included to further analyze this bomb. There are two feature length commentaries for the film, one from director Dennie Gordon (“”Dawson’s Creek””) and one from Spade, himself. I spun Spade’s commentary, hoping to get a little bit of insight into what drove him to create such a horribly unfunny character. Unfortunately, the commentary track was no help. Spade spends 90 minutes laughing at his own jokes, or explaining why things were re-shot or edited to come up with funnier lines. He even admits once or twice that the outcome flopped. I did learn that Spade had to cut to get a PG-13 rating, which may explain a lot. Remember, I said “”explain,”” not “”excuse.””Aside from the commentaries, there is a four minute Bloopers Reel, Deleted Scenes and Alternates Scenes that offer an optional director’s commentary (but don’t add to the film at all), filmographies for the primary cast members, animated menus, and a link to the film’s website. Much like the film, all the extras are boring and tedious. Don’t waste your time.Grade: DOVERALL EXPERIENCELord only knows why “”Joe Dirt”” was ever produced. At least if he had been a former SNL character, and had enjoyed a modicum of success, it might have made some sense to spin Dirt into a longer feature. As it is, “”Dirt”” is just a horrible movie with a DVD that’s far too comprehensive considering the source material. It just doesn’t deserve the time and effort that went into producing it, let alone the time it would take you to watch it. I swear on a stack of “”Lost & Found”” discs, you need to stay far away from this one.Final Grade: D-