Shot for $ 35,000 on Super 16 (impressively blown to 35mm for its bow at the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival), David Wall’s “Joe & Joe” is a sweet-natured little comedy that doesn’t quite overcome its writer-director’s first-feature limitations. Anchored by two likable lead performances, film spreads its undeniable charm too thin as it spins an increasingly silly and predictable ghost-story yarn. Theatrical prospects are scary, but pic’s winsome appeal could warrant modestvid sales and cable run.
First reel follows the two down-on-their-luck Joes, played by soap star David Wysocki and newcomer (and director’s brother-in-law) Sean Patrick Brennan, as they amble through life in a small Cape Cod town looking for lawns to mow. Rendered obsolete by their reliance on old-fashioned push mowers, the two childlike (read: dimwitted) friends spend more time fishing than working, with an equal lack of luck. Faced with the dilemma of trading their two beloved push mowers for a used riding model, the two are spared the decision, at least temporarily, when a mysterious young woman named Flora (Tracy Griffith) pops up at the local graveyard to tell of treasure buried near the remodeled garage that serves as home to the Joes. Flora, of course, isn’t as she seems, nor are her claims, and audience, unfortunately, will catch on to her ghostly mysterics long before the protagonists do.
Plot, however, isn’t really the point here, serving mostly to give the title duo something to do while traipsing about in simple-minded befuddlement. Each playing Laurel to the other’s Laurel, with a touch of Beavis & Butt-head thrown in, Joe and Joe cast a modest charm, but even fancy gets strained over the course of 90 minutes. With recurring jokes recurring too often and a plot stretched beyond its limits, there’s probably a terrific short film in “Joe & Joe.”
First-time writer-director Wall uses the scenic Cape Cod locales to nice effect, and proves more adept as director than writer. Tech credits, particularly soundtrack, are in line with the slim budget, while performances are generally pleasant if not always polished. Non-pro Brennan makes the strongest impression as the sweetest and slowest of the sweet and slow duo.