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O. C. LIVE | KIDS ON FILM

Disgusting Residents of 'Joe's Apartment' Bug Young Viewers

In "Joe's Apartment," a guy from Iowa moves to New York City and finds a crummy flat in a lousy part of town. It's just not any crummy flat, though: It's loaded with talking cockroaches who both annoy and aid the troubled hero. PG-13.

August 08, 1996|MARK CHALON SMITH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

"Joe's Apartment" may be a silly comedy with cult-status dreams, but it freaked some local youngsters.

Many of those not unnerved by the slapstick violence were left clutching lurching stomachs. Apparently even kids can take only so many loquacious roaches partying in playgrounds of garbage.

"Too gross," said 11-year-old Kim Chessman of Tustin. "I know [some people] laughed, but it was sick . . . like, disgusting."

Kim's 9-year-old brother, Abe, didn't respond to the trashy high jinks either. The many scenes of jivey roaches frolicking through Joe's toxic-dump flat had Abe giggling "only a couple of times," and he said he was upset by a subplot involving a pair of vicious thugs.

In one scene, they throw an old woman down a flight of stairs, clearly enjoying as she literally bounces to the bottom floor. "They really tried to hurt her," Abe observed. "They were mean."

Sandra Levitz of Santa Ana also thought the comedy was too graphic. She joined her son, Robert, 10, hoping it would be a hoot for both of them. "I saw the ads, and it looked pretty painless," she said. "It wasn't fun for me. I don't think he liked it either. . . . He ducked into me a few times."

Robert shrugged when asked about the thugs and the mayhem. But he frowned when the roaches and garbage came up. He said he turned away from the screen when the insects all but covered a pizza and, later, fell like rain onto Joe and his girlfriend during a make-out scene.

"And then they went into his mouth," Robert groaned.

Kim hated that too. But what really got her was an especially surreal bit when the roaches were dancing and singing around Joe's scummy toilet bowl.

"It wasn't funny," she decided.

Still, to some, mainly older boys, the humor was near perfect, a satisfying combination of MTV lunacy and great computer-generated graphics.

That bathroom scene was a favorite of Irvine 14-year-old Brent Mente's. Brent and his pal Lawrence Rodriguez, also 14, also from Irvine, said the gags did what they were supposed to do--make fun of life in New York.

"I wouldn't want to live [in that apartment], but being in New York looked cool," Brent said. "Anyway, nobody could have a place that was that dirty."

Lawrence added that the roaches (who sound like the Bowery Boys on helium) "were crazy because they had great voices and did great things," like throw a lasso around the neighborhood cat and ride her like a bronco in the "roach rodeo."

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