Which is more unexpected, the fact that Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser exists, or the fact that it’s simultaneously a riff on Forrest Gump, The Wizard of Oz, and It’s a Wonderful Life? Only there are way more fart jokes and testicles caught in an airplane toilet than any of those movies. And don’t get me wrong, I have a deep, possibly indefensible love for Joe Dirt. But, 14 years later, this did not need to happen by any stretch of the imagination.
After kicking off with an awkward and unnecessary framing device—Dennis Miller as the self-proclaimed “clumsy segue fairy”—you leap right into the second awkward and unnecessary framing device. Joe Dirt (David Spade reprising his super mulleted white trash role) sits on a bus bench and does his best Forrest Gump impersonation, launching into his era-spanning tale of woe. After the first film, he marries his too-good-for-him lady friend, Brandy (Brittany Daniel), has triplets, and lands a job as a logger. Continually belittled by his coworkers, his girls realize that their daddy is in fact a loser, and trying to prove that he isn’t, Joe and his trailer get sucked up into a twister and taken back in time to 1965. Yes, Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser is also a time travel movie. Bet you didn’t see that one coming. When Joe’s trailer lands in the past, it crushes the vicious leader of a biker gang and, putting on his ruby encrusted boots (?), Joe magically becomes their leader.
What follows is Joe’s pseudo-heroic quest to get back to his soul mate, reclaim his life, make a lot of money so his kids won’t think he’s a loser, and try not to fuck everything up. It’s as tedious as that sounds. Like Forrest Gump before him, Joe creates all kinds of fads, like throwing tied-together shoes over a power line, and the plot meanders from gag to gag, none of which land. He sees his old pal Kicking Wing (Adam Beach) in a dream, and, in a sad twist, Christopher Walken’s Clem once again plays a key part. All the while, there’s a dream war going on for Joe’s soul, and he spends most of the movie on the run from a metaphysical biker gang who, no joke, want his jewel-encrusted leather boots.
While that sounds just crazy enough to be a pretty damn good time, it most definitely is not. Jokes go on far too long, including one early joke about jokes going on too long that goes on far too long. Not only is the humor stale, none of the actors appear interested in delivering any of their lines. No one, not even Spade, looks like they want to be here.
Walken at least tries, but every shot feels like they got one take to get it right and then the production moved on regardless of the quality. Actors stumble over lines, and whoever thought it was a good idea to put Mark McGrath, who plays Joe’s chief romantic rival, in a movie was so, so wrong. Joe Dirt is my no means a visual masterpiece, but it at least feels like a movie. This has all the artistic flourish of an episode of The Bachelor, only the editing isn’t as good.
Granted, Beautiful Loser was released by Crackle, a free online streaming service, but you can tell where the budget went, and it mostly went to the rights for a handful of Lynyrd Skynyrd songs. To be fair, the most emotional moment in Joe Dirt 2 does come from an encounter Joe has with an early incarnation of Skynyrd, so maybe it was a good decision to spend money there.
There is zero imagination or effort to be found in Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser. Spade and co-writer/director Fred Wolf deliver a movie that feels tired and exhausted with itself from the very first scene. They capitalize on none of Spade’s comic timing, and a few light, emphasis on light, chuckles aside, you watch this movie with a flat, blank expression on your face, wishing you had made the decision to do something, anything else with this 107 minutes of your life.