YEE-HAA! If the sight of a clapped-out, jacked-up, 70s-spec ’69 Daytona doesn’t moisten your loins, nothing will! Amazingly, 2001’s Joe Dirt offers quite an entertaining story to accompany said Dodge, and there’s plenty of gloriously stupid humour to enjoy along the way.
First published in the September 2022 issue of Street Machine
Conveniently lost by his parents as an eight-year-old while on holiday at the Grand Canyon, the gloriously mulleted Joe Dirt (David Spade) grows up to be a cleaner at LA radio station 98.6 KXLA. One day, Joe is hauled into the studios and grilled about his appearance and presumed poor life choices by arsehole shock-jock, Zander Kelly (Dennis Miller).
Joe ignores the heckles and opens up about his life, explaining the many years of highs and lows he’s experienced during his quest to find his parents. He shares his adventures and stories of people he’s met along the way, including his time spent in his adopted hometown of Silvertown with the spunkilicious Brandy (Brittany Daniel).
While both Zander and the station’s audience initially treat Joe as an object of derision, his daily interview segments soon turn the tide of opinion from ridicule to love, as his hard-knock tales are always overshadowed by his unwavering positivity.
When word of his plight spreads, Joe is thrust into the national spotlight. After a reunion with his parents fails miserably, Joe is left to question the meaning of his existence. Eventually, however, he is reunited with a group of long-lost friends who teach him the true meaning of family.
Spade is perfect as the mullet-clad Dirt, aided by a fantastic supporting cast, including Christopher Walken as ex-mobster Clem Doore, Rosanna Arquette as the gum-chewing Charlene and Kid Rock as town bully Robby. But it’s comic actress Jaime Pressly who steals the show – she is in a league of her own when it comes to playing a horny southern belle, with perfect facial expressions and line delivery.
In real life, Spade is an ardent car collector who had previously helped spread the automotive gospel in flicks like Black Sheep and Tommy Boy. For Joe Dirt, the Mopar references come thick and fast, with the aforementioned Daytona sharing top-car billing with an uber-rare, Hemi-powered ’67 Belvedere convertible.
LET’S face it, there’s a little bit of Joe Dirt in all of us, so it’s best to leave all your alleged maturity at the door to enjoy this flick to its full potential. The film plays like a goofy melding of Forrest Gump and Big Fish, delivered with oodles of silliness to be expected from a David Spade/Adam Sandler collaboration (the latter produced). It’s all harmless fun, abetted by an awesome 70s/80s-focused soundtrack, and is virtually guaranteed to have you cracking a smile. The dog’s-balls-frozen-to-the-front-porch scene would make even the most stony-faced viewer flinch!
- 1969 Dodge Daytona
- 1967 Plymouth Belvedere
- 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
- 1959 Rambler Rebel
- 1983 Ford Econoline
- 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente
- 1975 Chevrolet El Camino
- 1955 GMC pick-up
- 1951 Chevrolet pick-up
- David Spade
- Brittany Daniel
- Christopher Walken
- Dennis Miller
- Adam Beach
- Jaime Pressly
- Kid Rock
- Fred Ward
- Caroline Aaron
- Erik Per Sullivan
Tyre-smoking Cragar S/S action is always welcome in my books, as is a dirt-drifting Trans Am
Abandoned by his parents as a child, a mullet-sporting, socially ostracised cleaner is roped into a radio show interview where he reveals his life’s journey
COOL FLICK FACT:
In 2015, David Spade paid $900K for a beautifully restored, copper-coloured ’69 Daytona, one of only 20 built with Hemi 426 power.