Joe's Apartment

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Joe's Apartment
Joe's Apartment.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Payson
Produced by Bonni Lee
Diana Phillips
Griffin Dunne
Judy McGrath
Screenplay by John Payson
Based on Short film:
John Payson
Starring Jerry O'Connell
Megan Ward
Music by Carter Burwell
Cinematography Peter Deming
Editing by Peter Frank
Studio MTV Productions
Tenth Annual Industries
Distributed by Geffen Pictures (released through Warner Bros.)
Release dates
  • July 26, 1996 (1996-07-26)
Running time 77 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $13 million
Box office $4,619,014[1]

Joe's Apartment is a 1996 musical-comedy film starring Jerry O'Connell and Megan Ward and the first film produced by MTV Films. It was based on a 1992 short film first made for MTV (which was used as filler in between commercial breaks), but was also inspired by the 1987 Japanese film Gokiburi-tachi No Tasogare (known as Twilight of the Cockroaches in the USA) and the 1987 American short film Those Damn Roaches.

The main focus of the story is the fact that unbeknownst to many humans, cockroaches can talk but prefer not to since humans "smush first and ask questions later". They also sing (as they do many times in the movie) and even have their own Public-access television cable TV channel. Actors providing the roaches' voices included Billy West, Jim Turner, Rick Aviles and Dave Chappelle.


Penniless and straight out of the University of Iowa, Joe (Jerry O'Connell) moves to New York needing an apartment and a job. With the fortuitous death of Mrs. Grotowski, an artist named Walter Shit (Jim Turner) helps Joe to take over the last rent-controlled apartment in a building slated for demolition. If Senator Dougherty (Robert Vaughn) can empty the building, he can make way for the prison he intends to build there, and uses thug Alberto Bianco (Don Ho) and his nephews, Vlad (Shiek Mahmud-Bey) and Jesus (Jim Sterling), to intimidate tenants.

Joe discovers he has 20 to 30 thousand roommates, all of them talking, singing cockroaches grateful that a slob has moved in. Led by Ralph (Billy West), the sentient, tune-savvy insects scare away the thugs in an act of enlightened self-interest that endears them to their human meal ticket. Tired of living on handouts from Mom back in Iowa and after a series of dead-end jobs ruined by his well-intentioned six-legged roomies, Joe finds himself the unskilled drummer in Walter Shit’s band. Hanging posters for SHIT, he encounters Senator Dougherty’s daughter Lily (Megan Ward) promoting her own project, a community garden to occupy the vacant site surrounding Joe’s building.

A gift to Lily while working on her garden is enough to woo her back to Joe's apartment, where the cockroaches break a promise to keep out of his business and a panicked Lily flees, only to discover the garden she’d worked on has been burned to the ground. During a fight with his roommates over his spoiled romantic evening, the building suffers the same fate as the garden. A mutual truce between our hapless and now homeless roommates leads the cockroaches to "call in favors from every roach, rat and pigeon in New York City" to try to make amends to Joe. Overnight, the roaches scour New York to gather materials to convert the entire area into a garden and take care of all the necessary paperwork to ensure harmony reigns over all.


Reviews for this film were universally negative and it was a box office failure. The film was rated only 19% on Rotten Tomatoes. However,'s review was more positive, receiving 4.4 stars out of 5.

The film later evolved into a cult classic.


Cockroach voices


External links[edit]