Who was this movie made for? And more importantly, why was it made
at all? "Joe Somebody," directed by John Pasquin (1997's "Jungle2Jungle"),
is type of feeble, PG-rated mainstream comedy so uninteresting and
overflowing with lame jokes that it is sure to bore viewers of every
age, shape, and size. The story--or lack thereof--proves almost defunct
as the precious minutes of the running time tick by at a terribly lugubrious rate.
Joe Scheffer (Tim Allen) is a somewhat timid, recently divorced video
communications specialist thrust into a mid-life crisis when he is
physically assaulted by a nasty coworker (Patrick Warburton) in front
of his 12-year-old daughter, Natalie (Hayden Panettiere). With his
self-esteem significantly shrunk by the incident, Joe decides he is
tired of being pushed around, as he sets out to change his image and
take a one-on-one self-defense class by a former action star (James
Belushi). Sure enough, he begins receiving more respect from his colleagues,
save for the beautiful Meg (Julie Bowen), who doesn't like who he is becoming.
At its heart, "Joe Somebody" would like to be a self-empowerment fantasy
about a man who learns that physically fighting and positively standing
up for himself are two entirely different things. As directed in a
confused manner by John Pasquin, this moral is all but lost as the
narrative contradicts itself at every turn. The movie spends an inordinately
large amount of time presenting the lengths Joe goes to in order to
become a good fighter, only to pull the rug out from underneath the
last 85 minutes with a wimpy, cornball finale.
Tim Allen (1999's "Galaxy Quest") slums his way through the movie.
As a starring vehicle for him, it is decidedly weak, featuring no
flare, no cleverness, and no point. Allen's previous comic work isn't
even put to good use, as there is nary a funny scene to be found.
The relationships between Joe and Meg, and Joe and Natalie, fare better,
but are given such slapdash screen time amidst the shallow character-transformation
plot that they fail to rise above being marginally adequate. Hayden
Panettiere (2000's "Remember the Titans") is a cute, non-cloying child
who has definite acting talent, but is shortchanged by the feuding
storylines that take up too much time. The same goes for Julie Bowen
(1996's "Happy Gilmore"), as the object of Joe's affection, Meg. Their
budding romance is played out in a low-key style that works some of
the time (such as a scene set in a bar), but remains bland.
The word, "bland," is actually the best way to describe "Joe Somebody."
A lackadaisical misfire, it is precisely the kind of film usually
released during the more appropriate, dead-zone movie month of January.
In Joe's quest to become a somebody, he never breaks free from being
a nobody. And neither does this listless cinematic dud.
Copyright © 2001 Dustin Putman