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Joe Dirt

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Joe Dirt
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDennie Gordon
Written byDavid Spade
Fred Wolf
Produced byRobert Simonds
CinematographyJohn R. Leonetti
Edited byPeck Prior
Music byWaddy Wachtel
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • April 11, 2001 (2001-04-11)
Running time
91 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$17.7 million[2]
Box office$31 million[2]

Joe Dirt is a 2001 American adventure comedy film, directed by Dennie Gordon (in her feature film directorial debut), starring David Spade, Dennis Miller, Christopher Walken, Adam Beach, Brian Thompson, Brittany Daniel, Jaime Pressly, Erik Per Sullivan, and Kid Rock. The film was written by Spade and Fred Wolf, and produced by Robert Simonds. The plot revolves around a poor young man, Joe Dirt, who at first seems to be a loser. As he travels in search of his parents, his finer qualities are increasingly revealed. He ends up with a new family of close friends, people he has helped and who respect him. While critical reception was mostly negative, the film was a modest financial success, eventually becoming a cult favorite. A sequel, Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser, premiered on Crackle on July 16, 2015.


Joe Dirt, a janitor at a Los Angeles radio station, tells his life story via shock jock Zander Kelly's broadcast. Joe reveals that as a baby he had a mullet wig installed because the top of his skull had never formed. At age 8, he was left behind by his parents and sister at the Grand Canyon and thus does not know his real surname. After growing up in a series of foster homes, Joe ran away until he arrived in Silvertown, a small chicken town in the Pacific Northwest. There, he met Brandy and her dog, Charlie, and became a target of jealousy from Robby, the town bully. After Brandy's alcoholic father shoots Charlie dead, Joe decides to try to find his parents.

He details his adventures across the country including his friendship with Kickin' Wing, an unsuccessful Native American fireworks salesman. In Indiana, Joe has an encounter with a serial killer named Buffalo Bob, who is parodying the lotion scene from The Silence of the Lambs. This brings him unwanted attention from the media but helps his search.

In Louisiana at a high school, he was a janitor working with Clem Doore, a former mobster in the Witness Protection Program. Clem rescues students after a mustard gas explosion and informs the media Joe was the hero. While traveling on further he came across an alligator farm and met the owner, Charlene. Looking to make money, he was hired to be an Alligator wrangler for audiences. After one encounter with an Alligator in which he landed wrong, he had an epiphany about his little sister yelling at Joe about why his last name was Dirt and not his real surname Nunamaker. Upon realizing his real last name, Joe discovers the address of his old family home and he travels to Baton Rouge, only to find that they moved away many years prior. Listening to Joe's story, both Zander and the radio audience initially find him an object of scorn, but Joe's kindness and optimistic outlook on life win them over.

Eventually, Joe lands the janitorial job at the radio station, where he recounts how he gave up the search and returned to Silvertown to be with Brandy. However, Robby informed him that he and Brandy were getting married and that she found Joe's parents but instructed him not to tell Joe. Zander calls Brandy to find out why, and she tells Joe his parents were killed the day they were at the Grand Canyon; she pleads with Joe to return to Silvertown. Upset by the news, Joe stays in Los Angeles.

Joe is unaware that he has become a media sensation, but he quickly discovers his newfound fame. An appearance on TRL results in a phone call from a woman claiming to be Joe's mother. Joe meets his parents, and he discovers that they intentionally abandoned him and that they only reconnected with him to boost their sales of clown figurines. Joe storms out, cutting ties with his parents. He intends to commit suicide, but Brandy arrives and finally admits that she lied to him about his parents being dead because she had to protect him from them and their greed after she found out what horrible people they were. Brandy expresses her love and convinces Joe to come home with her, but he suffers a head injury after a police officer lassos and accidentally causes him to fall off a bridge hitting his head while springing back up.

Joe wakes up in Brandy's house, surrounded by his friends: Kickin' Wing, who reveals that thanks to Joe he now owns 30 successful firework stands, Clem (who is now under the name of Gert B. Frobe) and Charlene (now without a thumb and middle finger on her left hand), who are now engaged. Brandy reveals that she got Joe a dreadlock wig following his head operation, has retrieved his Hemi, and she has a new dog that Charlie fathered. As they prepare to take a ride in Joe's Hemi, Robby arrives and tells Joe that no one wants him in Silvertown. Clem threatens Robby and exclaims that they are Joe's family. Robby challenges Joe to a race and Joe leaves him in the dust as Robby's car malfunctions and breaks down. As they drive away, Zander dedicates a song to Joe on the radio.




Box office[edit]

Joe Dirt opened at #4 in the domestic box office with $8,016,008[3] and went on to gross $27,087,695 domestically and $3,900,000 in other territories for a worldwide total of $30,987,695; from an estimated $17.7 million budget; this can be considered a moderate success.[2]

Critical response[edit]

On Metacritic the film has a rating of 20/100 based on reviews from 26 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[4] On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 9% rating based on 76 reviews with an average rating of 3.1/10. The site's consensus reads, "If you fall within the target audience of Joe Dirt, you may find it funny. Otherwise, the jokes will seem like a tired retread."[5] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B−.[6] Ebert and Roeper both gave the film a thumbs down. Richard Roeper criticized the film for being too predictable and strained, and said that the radio station storyline was "absurd". Roger Ebert agreed, but praised Spade for taking on a different role than he is normally associated with, and added that Spade's performance was convincing, despite the film's other shortcomings.[7] Ebert included Joe Dirt as one of his most hated films of all time under the category of "alleged comedies," stating that, "What movies, including Joe Dirt, often do not understand is that the act of being buried in crap is not in and of itself funny."[8]

Cancelled TV series[edit]

In early 2010, Spade worked on a pilot with TBS for an animated series based on the film. The series never materialized.[9]


In 2014, Spade revealed in a Reddit question that he was writing a sequel to Joe Dirt for Crackle.[10] Entertainment Weekly has noted that the film is "the first ever made-for-digital sequel".[11][12] Filming on the sequel began on November 17, 2014, with David Spade posting a first look at Joe Dirt on his Instagram.[13] The film was released in July 2015 and received similarly negative reviews.[14]


  1. ^ "Joe Dirt (2001)". IMDb.com. Archived from the original on June 19, 2017. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c "Joe Dirt (2001)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Archived from the original on October 13, 2013. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  3. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for April 13-15, 2001". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. April 16, 2001. Archived from the original on October 13, 2013. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  4. ^ "Joe Dirt". Metacritic. Archived from the original on November 10, 2015. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
  5. ^ "Joe Dirt (2001)". Rotten Tomatoes. April 11, 2001. Archived from the original on September 24, 2020. Retrieved February 14, 2022.
  6. ^ "Cinemascore :: Movie Title Search". Cinemascore.com. Archived from the original on December 20, 2018. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  7. ^ Ebert and Roeper[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ Roger Ebert (2005). "Ebert's Most Hated". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on September 7, 2005.
  9. ^ Hibberd, James (January 28, 2010). "David Spade, TBS plotting animated 'Joe Dirt'". The Live Feed. Archived from the original on September 18, 2016. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  10. ^ "DAVID SPADE SAYS JOE DIRT 2 MAY HAPPEN ON CRACKLE". IGN. April 30, 2014. Archived from the original on May 13, 2016. Retrieved April 30, 2014.
  11. ^ Highfill, Samantha. "'Joe Dirt 2' to become first ever made-for-digital sequel". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  12. ^ "Adam Sandler - Timeline Photos - Facebook". facebook.com. Archived from the original on February 26, 2022. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
  13. ^ See David Spade And His Terrible Facial Hair In Joe Dirt 2 Archived March 29, 2020, at the Wayback Machine CinemaBlend. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  14. ^ "Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser (2015)". Rottentomatoes.com. January 5, 2016. Archived from the original on March 27, 2019. Retrieved April 27, 2019.

External links[edit]