Throughout the years, Tim Allen has been making families laugh. From his role as Tim ‘The Tool Man’ Taylor in ABC’s “Home Improvement” to his roles in such Disney classics as “The Santa Clause” and “Toy Story,” Allen has been someone kids could turn to for a funny joke for over a decade. Now, however, Allen is getting typecast as a family comic, and his role in Fox’s “Joe Somebody” is proof of how being a family favorite isn’t necessarily a good thing.
“Joe Somebody” is the story of Joe Scheffer (Allen), an everyday business man who is constantly looked over in life. His wife (Kelly Lynch) has recently divorced him, the job promotion he was promised months ago has never happened and even though he’s worked for the same company for ten years, no one can remember his name. Rather than lashing out at the world, Joe continues to bottle up his anger inside of him. When he gets punched by a co-worker in front of his daughter over a parking spot though, it’s the final straw. Joe decides that this nobody is going to finally become a somebody and begins taking self-defense lessons in an attempt to finally beat the bully that set him off.
While the story behind “Joe Somebody” has a moral that’s good for young kids to learn, there have been 100 movies just like this geared towards a family audience. “Joe Somebody” was intended to finally break the mold of this family-friendly story by being rated PG-13, but when Fox discovered they didn’t have a film that was kiddie-friendly for the holidays, they axed “Joe Somebody” for a PG-rating. Now, “Joe Somebody” is a cliched-filled family film with lines and situations so predictable, audiences will be left groaning rather than laughing. Sure the film has a couple funny moments– the scene where Allen and a bunch of 40-something co-workers do Karaoke to the Backstreet Boys’ “Larger Than Life” should receive a few laughs from the 20 and under crowd– but it’s ending is so corny that nothing could prevent audiences from wishing they saw Harry Potter or Monsters, Inc. for the umpteenth time rather than sitting through “Joe.”
Despite a predictable, sugar-coated script, Tim Allen is great as the nobody who craves for something more out of life. Opposite an adorable Hayden Panettiere (the girl who plays his daughter), audiences will sympathize even more with his character. Their chemistry radiates on-screen and reminds viewers just how wonderful Allen is when working with children. Nevertheless, although Allen really does seem more comfortable in family comedies than any other genre, it’s sad that Fox couldn’t take a chance on keeping “Joe Somebody” geared for an older audience. For, as anyone who sees the film will quickly find out, it appears that all the jokes were geared toward that demographic and cut for ratings sake. This not only dumbs down the film for the adults in the audience, but also makes it too humorless for the youngsters to remain in their seats for the film’s 90-minute duration.
While fans of Allen’s may be excited to see “Joe Somebody” after his last comedy got pushed back, they should wait for the much more entertaining Big Trouble. Although Big Trouble may not be as family-friendly as “Joe” for the younger Tim Allen fans, your kids will love you all the more if you make them wait until “The Santa Clause 2” is released for their Tim Allen dose. For even a sequel can’t fall as flat on one’s ears as “Joe Somebody.”