Joe Scheffer thinks he is a schmuck. He is recently divorced from his wife and lives alone. His toils at his job, waiting for a promotion promised to him over a year ago. Scheffer (Tim Allen, Galaxy Quest, Toy Story 2) does have the love of his daughter Natalie (Hayden Panettiere, Remember the Titans, Dinosaur), a precocious young girl. He is also a generally good guy, but he doesn't realize this. His little bubble world bursts when Mark McKinney (Patrick Warburton, The Dish, The Emperor's New Groove), the company bully, steals a parking space from Joe and slaps him in front of Natalie. Joe Somebody is a boring morality tale that takes forever to get to its obvious point that looks, status, and reputation are not everything, especially compared to self-respect and friendship.
The encounter with Mark shatters Joe's self-image. He retreats to his house, refusing to go to work or interact with people. Meg Harper (Julie Bowen, You're Killing Me, An American Werewolf in Paris), the company wellness coordinator, likes Joe and wants to help him. She inadvertently causes him to believe that the way to regain his self-respect is to beat up Mark. As word gets around, Joe becomes popular. Everybody dislikes Mark, and admires Joe's resolve. He gets new friends, and great things start happening to him. Even his ex-wife begins to warm towards him. Of course, this turns off Meg, and Joe doesn't realize that in the long run, what he is doing is wrong. Joe changes the way he acts, the car he drives, and his hairstyle. Everything that made him an individual loses out to his all-consuming desire to conform.
For a comedy, Joe Somebody is just not funny. Part of the comedy should come from Joe trying to fit in, but everything seems more sad than funny. Nearly every scene with Chuck Scarett (James Belushi, Return to Me, Made Men) is supposed to elicit laughs, but doesn't. Scarett is a washed-up action hero who Joe turns to to learn martial arts. Belushi, Allen, and nearly every other actor quickly turn grating on the audience. Joe has three weeks to train for his fight and the film is only around ninety minutes, yet director John Pasquin (Small World, First Gentleman) makes everything feel longer.
John Scott Shepherd's script is seriously lacking in any sort of individuality that would make Joe Somebody different. It suffers from the same problem Joe is having; it is trying too hard to be like every other movie. All the roles are cardboard cutouts of simplistic characters: the man with low self-esteem, the bully, the spunky young girl, and the beautiful, smart, perfect woman that the man ignores until he realizes it's too late. There is no real reason this film deserved a wide release instead of a direct-to-video or television run. This is a family movie, so it's no secret that there is a happy ending and Joe realizes what he is doing. Too bad the quality of the script never reaches this point.
|Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.|
|1 hour, 37 minutes, Rated PG for language, thematic elements and some mild violence.|
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