But this sad sack becomes a Joe Somebody after he is slapped to the ground by Mark McKinney (Patrick Warburton) in the office parking lot. After challenging McKinney to a rematch, Allen's Joe Scheffer gets respect around the office and starts a relationship with company employee counselor Meg (Julie Bowen). In realizing what it takes to act like an adult, Allen's Joe grows up.
The whole cheeseball enterprise is staged and played out as an grown-up version of what might occur during grade school, complete with the stern principal: a corporate vice president (Greg Hermann) who also has designs on Meg.
Stripped of his man-about-the-garage act, Tim Allen stumbles through one awful scene after another with moist, complacent eyes. Throughout the entire misguided effort, Allen's addiction to cheap slapstick keeps any real humor from getting into the picture. Only James Belushi's beer-guzzling martial arts teacher, who trains Allen's Joe for the big showdown, gets some laughs.
Director John Pasquin, whose put his slack imprint on two other Allen schlock-fests (“Jungle2Jungle” and “Santa Claus”), does little more than follow Allen around with his camera. And Pasquin shoots many of the interior scenes with such detached wide-angles; it's as if he were crouched in a closet.
The movie also sets a few other technical low-water marks--including worst lighting of the year and possibly worst editing. The movie's choppy, erratic tone is as irritating as its unlikable characters. Starring Tim Allen, Julie Bowen, Kelly Lynch and James Belushi. Directed by John Pasquin. Written by John Scott Shepherd. Produced by Kenneth Atchity, Matthew Gross, Anne Kopelson, Arnold Kopelson and Brian Reilly. A Fox release. Comedy. Rated PG for language, thematic elements and some mild violence. Running time: 99 min