When the office bully Mark McKinney (Patrick Warburton) humiliates Joe Scheffer (Tim Allen) in front of his 12 year old daughter Natalie (Hayden Panettiere) in an incident in the office car park, Joe is keen to redeem himself. Still hung up on his ex-wife Callie (Kelly Lynch), he enrols in martial arts classes with Chuck Scarett (Jim Belushi), a washed up action star, and gets the attention of the office ‘wellness co-ordinator’ Meg Harper (Julie Bowen).
Review by Louise Keller:
There’s something very appealing about Joe Somebody, an escapist comedy that doesn’t require quantum leaps of faith to believe in its hero. This variation on the Cinderella theme of sorts endears us to a very ordinary kind of middle-aged guy whose life is as wrinkled as his crumpled appearance. He is Mr Everybody caught on the treadmill of survival in the corporate jungle and being bombarded by every passing coconut. It’s funny, witty and the humour is never forced; we can just sit back, grin and gather the accumulative effect. Clearly exemplifying how shallow the popularity stakes really are, Joe’s unlikely hero status comes as a big surprise, especially to Joe himself. We smile knowingly as he is invited to the 13th floor executive club to play squash – chances are, there will be more that is squashed than the ball! We smile even more knowingly when we watch him peer into a shonky window advertising kung fu tuition. Then we meet his instructor, former B movie-star (James Belushi is divine), and we know this is going to be milked for all its worth. And it is - it’s a hoot. This is more than a comedic role for Tim Allen: he is also the romantic lead and a single father who is still pining over his ex-wife. And he is very likeable throughout. Julie Bowen is appealing in what could traditionally have been a Meg Ryan role, although there is not much opportunity beyond the predictable. Hayden Panettiere is sweet as Joe’s daughter, but our main focus is on Joe himself. He might be straight and square, but he is sincere and we are rooting for him all the way. Frivolous fun for Everybody, Joe Somebody is a delight.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Joe Somebody is the perfect example of how hard mainstream American filmmaking tries to provide not only entertainment but earnest life lessons. In this case, how to survive being a blob. OK, that’s unkind, but it does try rather too hard. The thing that makes it irritating is that while the lesson may well be valid and worthwhile, the process of telling it is so plastic as to be hard to swallow. The script manipulates all the characters to suit its purpose against all the laws of human nature, and drums up a smiling, happy ending that lets us all off the hook of taking any of it seriously. So the lesson is wasted, after all. I’m not suggesting that every film should have an ending like No Man’s Land, which leaves us staring at the screen in the realisation that only the film is over, not the problem. By now you’ll think I’m awful and I hated Joe Somebody, but I didn’t. Some part of me enjoyed the film’s easy laughs and despite feeling that Joe’s daughter at 12 was given lines I’d consider grown up for a 25 year old, I appreciated Hayden Panettiere’s performance as Natalie. I suppose I found the film overstated, as is Hollywood’s wont, while at the same admiring its smooth production values and relentless action (as in movement, not fighting). And most of all, I sighed with relief that the resolution of Joe’s search for self confidence was not left to physical violence, which is how most American films tend to deal with conflict between men. It’s predictable, which makes it less than confronting; time to ease into the seat.
Email this article
JOE SOMEBODY (PG)
CAST: Tim Allen, Julie Bowen, Kelly Lynch, Hayden Panettiere, James Belushi, Greg Germann
PRODUCER: Kenneth Atchity, Matthew Gross, Anne Kopelson, Arnold Kopelson, Brian Reilly
DIRECTOR: John Pasquin
SCRIPT: John Scott Shepherd
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Daryn Okada
EDITOR: David Finfer
MUSIC: George S. Clinton
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jackson De Govia
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 25, 2002
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: December 18, 2002