Joe's Apartment

on July 26, 1996 by Dwayne E. Leslie
   Based on the 1992 MTV short feature of the same name, this comic live-action romance/musical does not deliver. Rather than the ad campaign's promised "sex, bugs and rock & roll," what audiences get is no sex, plenty of bugs (50,000) and sporadic rock 'n roll. "Joe's Apartment" is the first MTV-branded film, so one would expect a soundtrack saturated with new bands showcasing their music. What you get is an excessive amount of cockroaches that sing Broadway musical tunes during choreographed dance productions.
   The title character, Joe ("Calendar Girl's" Jerry O'Connell), is a midwestern lad who moves to New York. There, he has no job and barely any money, and he's very lonely to boot. He does manage to find his own place, but his new money-hungry landlord (Don Ho) gets a great yoffer on the property and schemes to evict him--hardly an energetic storyline. By this time, Joe would be ready to head back to Iowa, but he's now met a love interest ("P.C.U.'s" Megan Ward) and has befriended his roommates--the twist being that his roommates are talking cockroaches.
   In his feature directing debut, former MTV supervising producer John Payson has the ingredients for an interesting tale, but the mix would work better as a horror film. After all, the heroes here are creatures that audiences prefer to spray and kill than watch and applaud. However, the blending of the live action with the animated cockroaches (computer generated by Blue Sky Prods. and stop action by Fly Films) is excellent. One could go buggy trying to tell the real cockroaches from the unreal. But that seamlessness will go unappreciated, because the audience will be too bored, or too in search of Raid, to care. Starring Jerry O'Connell, Megan Ward, Robert Vaughn and Don Ho. Directed and written by John Payson. Produced by Diana Phillips and Bonni Lee. A Warner Bros. release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for crude humor and a brief drug reference. Running time: 80 min
Tags: Jerry O' Connell, Megan Ward, Robert Vaughn, Don Ho, Director John Payson, Writer John Payson, Producer Diana Phillips, Bonni Lee, Warner Bros., Comedy, Cockroaches, money-hungry landlord, MTV Short

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