Films like ‘Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser’ are not supposed to be the kind of movies that require a lot of thinking and questioning. Yet, for most of Joe Dirt 2 I could not help but think about two questions over and over again. Why was this made? And, who was this made for?
The original ‘Joe Dirt’ was never a great movie. It was fun and it had its moments, but that was it. Rewatching the film brings back good memories and harkens back to a time when dumb humor and fart jokes still had some level of intelligence behind their writing.
The sequel is an unsurprisingly dumber version of the original. Fifteen years later and almost nothing has changed. Except that really everything has changed. It has been fifteen years and the little jokes and plot points of the original ‘Joe Dirt’ are really on accessible if you just watched it (Note: I had just rewatched the original and I was still momentarily confused by some of the callbacks). David Spade has made a somewhat successful go of it on TV, and the years since he donned that golden mullet wig have piled on. The ‘Joe Dirt’ generation (and cast) has grown up. So why doesn’t this new film show that.
Everything about this film just feels forced and unnecessary. I want to believe that this was a serious effort to make a sequel, but its hard. The plot is both obnoxiously simple and overly contrived. The whole thing revolves around weird bastardization of films like ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, ‘Back to the Future’, and ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Joe Dirt is magically sent back in time via his trailer being hijacked by a giant tornado. There he is led blindly by a guardian angel (Patrick Warburton) to learn a lesson about being a person, father, and husband. While in the past he runs into the mom of his beloved Brandy (both played by Brittany Daniel), and a host of younger versions of characters from the original film. Overall, 90% of the film is deprecating humor aimed at the unfortunate and dim Joe Dirt (the whole, universe hate’s Joe Dirt thing gets old pretty quick). The other 10% is obnoxious commentary (Dennis Miller is back. This time in a weird meta narrator role) and the obligatory lesson learned.
If you’ve never seen the original ‘Joe Dirt’ then the sequel will confuse you and likely make you never want to watch its predecessor. Those of you that have seen the original might enjoy revisiting many of its characters, but that enjoyment is likely contingent on how much your sense of humor has evolved in fifteen years. Honestly, at times it feels almost as sad as funny to see David Spade revisiting his past in such a way. Perhaps with a better (or more pop culturally relevant) plot this wouldn’t have been such an unnecessary film. There’s too much gimmick and not enough genuine humor. Much of the film feels like bits of SNL sketches, film parodies, and random ideas patched together. Apparently, at the end of the film Joe Dirt learned something. I did too. I learned that sequels to films made fifteen years later with no intelligent direction or purpose simply do not work.
Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser Debuts on Blu-ray & DVD Jan. 12.