Gary is torn between his father and the film's titular character, Joe (Nicolas Cage), a lovable and somewhat heroic fuck-up who is trying to hold himself in line and stay out of jail. Joe works as a foreman in a strange industry that involves chopping trees with axes that squirt a toxic chemical to make them die, all so a timber company can clear the land and plant new ones. It's hard, dirty work that is vividly rendered in the film. In this setting, Gary stumbles upon Joe and his otherwise all-black crew; younger and less hardened than any of them, Gary is a boy among men. Unlike his father, though, Gary can work and he earns the respect of the men, especially Joe.