Back in the good old days of VCDs and a weird childhood, I kept seeing the trailer to some fucked up movie where a dude lived in an apartment with God knows how many talking/singing cockroaches. At the time of my youth, even the idea of a motherfucking roach with Broadway singing skills scared the living fuck out of me because, hey, it’s a still fucking cockroach. I may have been that weird kid in class that loved the entire FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise and made Samuel L. Jackson a role model but seriously, thousands upon thousands of singing roaches that live in your walls. Fuck that shit, that’s way worse than the man-eating giant cockroaches of MIMIC.
So a few decades later, now all grown up and possessing the ability to crush roaches with my slippers without a second’s thought, I decided to revisit this roach infested movie I always passed by in the old video rental shops that are now a relic of the past (rest in peace, Video City) and see just what the fuck JOE’S APARTMENT was. My expectations for JOE’S APARTMENT were not that high to begin with so when I popped the DVD in the player only to see nothing but a generic textbook example of a 90’s comedy, I wasn’t that shocked about its low quality but I was surprisingly disappointed in it.
First of all, JOE’S APARTMENT has cockroaches that fucking talk, sing AND dance among other things. To give the crew credit, these motherfucking roaches were talented enough to warrant themselves a sitcom that could beat any of the bullshit the local Filipino television scene craps out on a daily basis. This juvenile novelty idea alone should’ve been a gateway for the writers to go haywire and unleash as much creative laughs (crass and otherwise) as possible since, hey, cockroaches. That shit was comic gold waiting to be tapped but instead, the writers decided to play things relatively safe and just go for the most predictable gags that include Sex Jokes and a couple of Gross-Out Feces jokes.
Instead of taking advantage of the scenario and going as wild as they could with the idea of a legion of sentient cockroaches, JOE’S APARTMENT is content enough to keep these roaches as nothing but a Marketing Gimmick designed for ticket sales and present them as the equivalent of a Disney Singing Animal’s Creepy Uncle (only multiplied by a thousand). All these roaches do is engage in uncalled for song and dance numbers that really have no place in the story and do Frat Boy Shit like smoke, drink, watch porn and deliver as many Inoffensive Yet Misogynistic jokes as the writers could muster (thank god that trope’s slowly dying). According to the movie, Joe lives with an estimated twenty to forty thousand of the little bastards but despite that number, this legion of insects all have the same fucking voice and personality. Never mind the fact that there’s two named roaches who appear to be the leaders of the clan, all of them talk in the same high pitched voice that sounds like a Smurf on too much weed. I don’t know about you but I can’t really stand hanging around guys who basically think with their dicks instead of their brains so watching a movie where there’s a legion of them per square inch of apartment space wasn’t really something that could make me laugh.
Maybe the level of humor was kept safe because according to IMDB, JOE’S APARTMENT was rated PG-13 so, obviously, the writers weren’t allowed to add anything TOO gross for the teenage MTV crowd of the day but even if there were some moments of well timed black humor where the roaches would call out humanity for being shitty only to do the exact same thing they hated said human for,JOE’S APARTMENT’s humor courtesy of it selling point (i.e. them singing roaches) isn’t something anyone would remember outside of the idea’s novelty.
Beyond the Legion Of Singing Roaches, JOE’S APARTMENT literally has nothing to distinguish itself from the other 90’s comedies. Earlier, I described the movie as a textbook example of the 90’s Comedy and it is nothing but that. If you’re not sure about what I’m talking about because you weren’t really paying much attention to the Comedy Movies of the time, consider yourself lucky that you were able to live a life not knowing this ego masturbation called 90’s Comedy Movies. I on the other hand had to see this level shit in my formative years and I’m grateful to whatever powers may be that I gravitated towards Samuel L. Jackson movies instead of Adam Sandler shitfests because instead of becoming a Narcissistic Asshole, I became a Crass And Mildly Depressed Asshole.
Now, back on topic.
Every movie needs a protagonist, and the 90’s Comedy Movie has the Lovable And Clumsy Man-Child that goes through life by being a Whimsical Asshole (let’s call him LACMC for short). Basically, they’re boys who chose not to grow up and live every day of their life as if they never left some sort of never-ending keg party with friends. Speaking of friends, our LACMC has Awesome Wingmen at his side that always help him with everything as if they have no life of their own outside of the protagonist’s personal life. Despite having no personality outside of being a complete dumbass that can’t tell left from right, the LACMC always gets the Seemingly Serious Girl to be his girlfriend by the story’s end even if they have no personality to speak of. How the girl falls for LACMC is beyond me but I bet it has something to do with LACMC sacrificing animals to a Cross Roads Demon while off-screen. And for reasons absolutely no one can comprehend, all of this happens against the backdrop of some convoluted Economic Scheme where The Man (the only one in the story who hates the heroes because they’re fun and The Man is not) plans to get rich by engineering a hostile takeover that somehow involves the LACMC despite how stupid that sounds. Shenanigans then ensue for an hour and a half, starring this wacky troupe of cutouts as they bump into one toilet humor loaded scenario to another.
I’ll give JOE’S APARTMENT a couple of points for slightly averting some of these annoying mainstays in the 90’s Comedy Movie, like how the titular Joe is believable as a loser (at least for the first half of the movie) who has the shittiest luck in the world and how his Awesome Wingmen turn out to be more destructive than anything thanks to their never-ending party mentality (fuck do you expect from sentient roaches anyways). There’s also the fact that the progression of events is pretty coherent as compared to others of the same genre where the narrative is paper-thin at best and is only a cheap justification to link poorly-made skits together but in the end, JOE’S APARTMENT reverts back to the usual motions of every 90’s Comedy Movie and resolves everything just in time for Joe to not only get the girl but be filthy fucking rich by the end, all thanks to the actions of others and not himself. Yes, it’s a fucking comedy and it would (admittedly) be a crime to take it way too seriously and demand well paced character arcs but as it is, JOE’S APARTMENT is a good example of what NOT to do in future comedies.
JOE’S APARTMENT is a forgettable relic of a forgettable genre that’s thankfully dying out as we speak, even if retards like Adam Sandler and Vic Sotto earn millions every day for scraping the bottom of the barrel but if curiosity got the better of you, then I can’t exactly stop you from watching singing cockroaches. As for me, it was nice to finally get that lingering question (“What the fuck is JOE’S APARTMENT?”) out of my mind but the answer to it isn’t exactly something worth celebrating.