Joe’s Apartment (1996) – Review

2 Stars

Joe’s Apartment features a slew of talking cockroaches with east coast personalities. The concept started as shorts between commercial breaks on MTV during the early nineties. So, when MTV films launched they decided that this product was an ideal launching pad for the burgeoning label. The results are a mixed bag. The movie would be much better if they had gotten rid of the rodents and focused on its satrical and comical view of life in New York City. The parts with the roaches are the least amusing bits in the entire film.

Joe (Jerry O’Connell) is an Iowa farm boy who’s recently relocated to New York. He is mugged at the bus station leaving him virtually penniless. So he sets out to find the cheapest housing unit in the city. He stumbles upon an elderly lady who dies of a heart attack in his arms and Joe then assumes the identity of the deceased woman’s son. This way he is entitled to take over her rent-controlled apartment. Little does the naive Joe know, but the unit is over-run by talking, singing, dancing, cockroaches.

There is undeniable cleverness coursing through this uneven film. But every time the picture establishes some comedic momentum the roaches come back on-screen and the movie slips into disgusting images and situations. The writer does an amusing job of skewering the absurdity of urban living. Everything from crime to rent control is used for comic fodder, and if the filmmakers had chosen to stay with that theme and rid themselves of the insects the whole film would have benefitted. However, despite the half-dozen musical numbers performed by the roaches, I found some quality laughs trapped inside of this off-beat cult flick.

Director: John Payson
Stars: Jerry O’Connell, Megan Ward, Jim Turner

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