American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
I wrote the words "Joe Dirt" at the top of my notepad, and settled back to watch the new David Spade movie. Here is the first note I took: Approx. 6 min. until first cow fart set afire. "Joe Dirt" doesn't waste any time letting you know where it stands.
This is the kind of movie where the hero finds two things that have fallen from the skies--a meteor and an atomic bomb--and both turn out to be a case of mistaken identity. Yes, the meteor is actually a large chunk of frozen treasure from an airplane lavatory, and the bomb is actually a large human waste storage unit.
We professional movie critics count it a banner week when only one movie involves eating, falling into or being covered by excrement (or a cameo appearance by Carson Daly). We are not prudes. We are prepared to laugh. But what these movies, including "Joe Dirt," often do not understand is that the act of being buried in crap is not in and of itself funny.
Third-graders might think so (they're big on fart jokes, too), but trust me: When Joe Dirt thinks he has an atom bomb, until the cap gets knocked off, and a geyser of brown crud pours out, and he just stands there while it covers him--that's not funny. Especially since we know he's only standing there to be sure we get the joke. Otherwise, he would move to avoid being entirely covered. Wouldn't you? (Direct quote from the press release, in connection with a scene where Spade is nearly eaten by an alligator: "David Spade performed his own stunts with the animatronic reptile. Trapped in a tangle of cable while lodged in the beast's mouth, he joked to the crew that he hoped he'd never have to get a job at a zoo." To which I can only add, "What? And leave show business?!") Spade plays Joe Dirt, who is white trash. The movie uses that expression constantly, even observing at one point that his facial hair has grown in "white trash style" without the need for trimming. Joe's haircut is one of those 1970s mullet jobs; we learn it's not real hair but a wig supplied by his parents to cover a crack in his infant head that exposed his brain. (Note: This is also supposed to be funny.) The wig is a rare gift from his parents, who apparently abandoned him at the Grand Canyon when he was 8 and happily playing in a garbage can.