Written: December 14, 2001
Tim Allen, the gracious accident-prone tool man of television stumbles into the big screen in a comedy about how the workplace can be so much like our school days.
Allen stars as Joe Scheffer, a recently divorced dad who works in a dead-end job at a socially inept pharmaceutical company. Joe is struggling to find his way out of watching his ex-wife (Kelly Lynch) leave him for a younger man (Ken Marino).
One day, Joe decides to bring Natalie, his 12-year old daughter (Hayden Panettiere), to work Just when Joe is about to take a parking spot he is cheated out of the spot by another executive named Mark McKinney (Patrick Warburton). Joe confronts McKinney about the spot and is beaten up by McKinney in front of his co-workers and more importantly his daughter. This event shatters Joe’s world and the pharmaceutical company sends Meg Harper (Julie Bowen), the company’s Human Resources Manager, over to talk with Joe. After talking with Meg, Joe eventually decides the only way to become a better man again is to face McKinney in the fight to end all fights. Will Joe take Mark? How will Joe’s new found infamy at work effect his personal relationships?
Joe Somebody is another example of those comedies where the trailers spoil all the good parts. I really like Tim Allen and his forthcoming movie Big Trouble is a wickedly hilarious film. The sad thing is that Joe suffers from a very high degree of immaturity. Do we ever believe for a second that this was a really feasible event that could or would happen?
Allen’s daughter in the film was the little scene-stealer in the film, Remember the Titans and here the daughter is just as precious. However the film really uses her as more of a representative of the emotional side of Allen’s character. This counter-acts with believability of the script. I like the little actress but she is almost too good for this kind of fare.
Julie Bowen is also an interesting choice as the romantic lead. She continues her fresh and subtle approach that she has honed to almost perfection in the critically-adored NBC TV series ED. She could be the next Meg Ryan if she plays her cards right. She definitely has a lot of the same traits as Meg. (No pun intended)
The gem of the film lies in the relationship between James Belushi and Tim Allen. I really enjoyed their chemistry and their comedic antics. The scenes with Belushi teaching Allen self defense will probably be what audiences will remember the most about this film. Sadly that could be all they remember.
To borrow a quote from the movie, the Thrilla’ in Vanilla isn’t that sweet.
(2.5 of 5)
So Says the Soothsayer.