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'Joe Somebody'

Tim Allen strolls through 'Joe Somebody' in agreeable sitcom style

Friday, December 21, 2001

By Barry Paris, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

It's take-your-kid-to-work day at Starke Pharmaceuticals, where wimpy Joe makes product-promotion videos ("Valomin -- Making You Better Than You Really Are!"). Today, he plans to show his problematic little daughter a good time. But just his luck, as they pull into the employee parking lot, some jerk cuts him off to grab the last space. Just his worse luck, it's the company bully, who -- when Joe protests -- slugs and humiliates him in front of everybody.

'Joe Somebody'

RATING: PG for language, thematic elements and some mild violence.

PLAYERS: Tim Allen, Julie Bowen

DIRECTOR: John Pasquin

WEB SITE: www.joesomebody



A re-match and an identity crisis are in store for hapless "Joe Somebody," an agreeable enough Tim Allen comedy whose agreeable Norman Lear-type liberal values used to be but are no longer politically correct.

Tim Allen is -- what can you say? -- agreeable enough. His popularity is still and always a mystery to me. He's like the late Stuart Erwin, a phenomenon of TV blandness. Here, as in his "Home Improvement" series and "For Richer or Poorer," he strolls through the laugh lines and light slapstick with amiable sitcom superficiality and occasional bursts of sincerity. He can't even do a convincing drunk -- the easiest staple in comic repertoire -- but he never does anything objectionable.

His rebound love interest is Julie Bowen, the company's idealistic "wellness coordinator," who has social as well as personal issues and looks very cute, indeed, in her underwear. Hayden Panettiere gets on your nerves as the mouthy 12-year-old with too many broken-home issues and precocious wisecracks. Jim Belushi plays Joe's martial-arts instructor with personal development issues. Greg Germann, master of the slimy corporate-exec caricature, plays Joe's insufferable boss.

Watch for a funny Jesse Ventura cameo -- the film is set in Minnesota. As noted, its values are outdated in our post-911 Dubya-Rumsfeld Era, whose "dead or alive" rhetoric and "first war of the 21st century" enthusiastically affirm the expectation of more and better wars to come. But credit director John Pasquin (a "Home Improvement" pal of Allen's) and writer John Scott Shepherd with an alternative "Rocky" and a sweet (if hopeless) effort to deliver something other than a macho message.

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