No pay `Dirt' for Spade

Movie review

April 11, 2001|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

David Spade, the urban slickster best known for his TV roles in "Just Shoot Me" and "Saturday Night Live" and as a feature film foil for Chris Farley in "Black Sheep" and "Tommy Boy," goes to the top of the "SNL" rotation in "Joe Dirt."

Gone is the Spade we know and love, the smarmy runt with a whip-smart comeback always at the tip of his tongue. In his place is an optimistic hick plowing through life on a heroic quest for his parents, who left him behind at the Grand Canyon when he was 8 years old.

Joe Dirt's journey of self-discovery takes him through familiar (and perhaps not-so-familiar) Jenny Jones territory to hit every tourist stop on the trailer trash tour: Foster homes and fireworks stands peopled by serial killers and drunk amputees.

Dirt seems perpetually caught up in escalating episodes of humiliation, usually dealing in one way or another with manure. Sporting yellow acid-washed jeans and cut-up Def Leppard T-shirts, he's the poster boy for his kind. His spiky-on-top, long-everywhere-else mullet mane is a magnet for Dixie chicks - and a target for radio jockey Dennis Miller, who lets Dirt tell his story over the airwaves, while abusing him verbally.

Dirt builds up a following among listeners, who track his every effort to find out where he came from. Produced in part by Adam Sand- ler's company, Happy Madison, the movie tries to echo his movie MO - gross-out tactics alongside a feel-good story-line, usually a simpleton with heart of gold who gets the girl and glory at the end. Even with help from a pathetic Kid Rock and a boost from always-on Christopher Walken, Spade can't pull this off.

The Spade we know would've taken one look at this project and said, "Buh-bye."

`Joe Dirt'

Starring David Spade

Directed by Dennie Gordon

Rated PG-13 (crude language and sexual humor)

Released by Sony Pictures Entertainment

Running time 93 minutes

Sun score *

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