Joe Somebody

Posted on December 13, 2002 at 5:17 am

D
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
Profanity: Very strong language for a PG
Alcohol/ Drugs: Macho drinking and cigar smoking
Violence/ Scariness: Comic violence
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: 2001

Did anyone even read this script before deciding to make the movie?

Did anyone even write it, or was it just made up on the spot by 10 year olds?

This is a movie about a man named Joe (Tim Allen) who is slapped in the face by a bully (Patrick Warburton) in an altercation at the parking lot at work. His daughter, who has come with him for “Take Your Daughters to Work Day,” sees her father get hit, and sees his humiliation afterward. He is so depressed that he sits at home in his bloody shirt for three days, until Meg (Julie Bowen), the office “wellness” coordinator, comes over and asks him what he wants. A lightbulb goes on over his head — aha! What he wants is to challenge the bully to a rematch. As soon as word gets out, he is suddenly Mr. Popularity around the office. So, all he has to do is spend three weeks taking fighting lessons from a former star of low-budget action movies, and he’ll be all set.

So the message of this movie is that being popular and being willing and able to beat someone up are what really matter. On the way to the final confrontation there is a lot of comic violence (including two below-the-belt injuries that are supposed to be funny). Despite his commitment to his daughter, he seems completely insensitive to the impact of his actions on her. And there is also something very icky about the way that Joe’s ex-wife becomes attracted to him again when she sees how newly tough he is, so she puts on a sexy red teddy and tries to sneak into his house to get back together with him. To make it worse, it is their daughter who stops her, in a strange scene that makes it clear that any parenting in that relationship is going to the mother, not from the mother.

Attractive and talented performers are completely wasted in this movie. Despite a couple of nice moments between Meg and Joe, and the use of the truly magnificent Eva Cassidy song “Songbird,” it is an almost unalloyed disappointment.

Parents should know that the movie has very strong language for a PG, including many words they would not want their children to use. Joe smokes a cigar as an emblem of machismo. Characters drink and there is a scene in a bar. The entire theme of fighting back is very poorly handled. And some kids will be upset by the neglect of Joe’s child.

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy some of Allen’s other movies much more. Try The Santa Clause and one of my all-time favorites, Galaxy Quest.

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