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Overall Rating
2.27

Awesome: 26.67%
Worth A Look: 0%
Average: 6.67%
Pretty Bad: 6.67%
Total Crap60%

1 review, 9 user ratings


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Joe's Apartment
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by The Ultimate Dancing Machine

"Call the exterminator"
1 stars

Some movies are doomed by their premises. JOE'S APARTMENT, which struggles endlessly to wring humor out of its parade of singing cockroaches, is probably as good an example of this as any.

In fairness, this thing might have looked sorta decent on paper. Consider the cast, which seems to have been made up of all the fringe pop culture figures who happened to be in the neighborhood during the shoot. You've got everybody from Don Ho to underground film god Nick Zedd to pro wrestler Bam Bam Bigelow to Paul Bartel to Christopher Durang. None of these guys is used to any great effect in JOE'S APARTMENT, but you can see how this movie promised to be a hipster classic of sorts. It's just those goddamn cockroaches...

The movie was backed by MTV, the same guys who also gave us, among other dubious achievements I need not name here, the worst TV show in human history (MTV's Undressed). What we have with JOE'S APARTMENT is a feature-length version of a short-short film they used to play in the early '90s. Alas, what might have made for passable entertainment in between Nirvana videos looks mighty thin when stretched out to eighty minutes.

Joe (Jerry O'Connell) is a fresh-faced Gen X kid from Iowa who moves to New York to get his career off the ground. Through circumstances too tedious to recount, he lucks into a cheap, run-down rent-control apartment--which happens to be filled to the rafters with singing stop-motion-animated cockroaches. The little fellas take a shine to Joe--after all, he's a bigger slob than they are--and contrive to help him unsort his tangled-up personal life.

Truthfully, it's not necessarily impossible that somebody could have done things with this rickety premise, but writer-director John Payson keeps taking the easy way out, loading JOE'S with cheap gross-out jokes. They're not even halfway clever gross-out jokes. Payson even expects us to laugh when one character introduces himself as Walter Shit. He has Joe name his band Shit. He has Joe absently eating out of a cereal bowl full of roaches. Ha, ha, ha.

Payson betrays a fascination with dumb slapstick and easy caricature; his supporting cast is too unsubtle and broadly conceived to be remotely funny. And he doesn't seem to have the imagination to turn JOE'S into anything more than a by-the-numbers exercise in goofball animation. The plot is pretty hopeless, including such cliche contrivances as the Evil Developer (who has a scale model of his dream building project sitting atop his desk, natch) and the Distant Love Object who you just know is gonna end up in the sack with Joe no matter what.

Finally, let us return to the singing, dancing, rapping, squeaky-voiced cockroaches, who always sound kind of like the chorus to "Video Killed the Radio Star" or something. They do full-scale musical numbers and sing not-really-clever songs. Some poor sap actually has his name listed in the opening credits under "Roach Songs." (Another poor sap is listed as "MTV liason" (sic), but I digress.) The cockroaches are simply not funny, and there's too much of them; it gets to the point where you wince whenever they launch into song. I think MTV intended JOE'S APARTMENT to be some kind of Gen X anthem--check out the Butthole Surfers and Sonic Youth posters on the walls--which makes me wonder what, exactly, the men in suits were thinking when they greenlighted a movie about insects.

JOE'S APARTMENT is virtually laughless, at least for anyone over twelve. Can't MTV just show videos?

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=3562&reviewer=223
originally posted: 09/08/03 16:39:42
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User Comments

3/29/08 Pamela White I thought it a big waste of time 1 stars
3/25/06 Emily Killed my brain cells 1 stars
11/26/04 jesse wetherell actually, most of the cockroaches weren't stop motion, they were computer animated. 3 stars
10/23/04 LilyM I couldn't stop watching. I wanted to, but I couldn't. 2 stars
7/30/04 Eloise singing bugs, obvous storyline, cheesy actors BRING IT ON, yey :) 5 stars
1/08/04 Jakko I thought it was highly entertaining, fantastic film. 5 stars
9/17/03 angelina this is the most hilariously stupid film ever 5 stars
9/09/03 Oompah Loompah Who's got the Raid? 1 stars
12/12/01 Shane Robert Myers!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mtv productions have done it again! This movie kicks ass!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  26-Jul-1996 (PG-13)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A


Directed by
  John Payson

Written by
  John Payson

Cast
  Jerry O'Connell
  Megan Ward
  Billy West
  Reginald Hudlin
  Robert Vaughn
  Don Ho



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