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Employee of the Month

Employee of the Month doesn't hold a candle to a marathon of MTV's Vicious Circle, Newlyweds and Punk'd--and all those are available for FREE. Sadly, everyone in the film is capable of funnier things.


Zack (Dane Cook) is more than a box boy at Super Club—a not-so-thinly veiled version of Costco/Walmart style warehouse stores. He sort of lives there, too, with his secret lounge behind the stacks, where he hangs with other Super Club outcasts (Andy Dick, Harland Williams and Brian George), and trades damaged goods on the black market. Vince (Dax Shepard) is the Super Club's superstar checker, employee of the month 17 months in a row. Naturally, Zack and Vince are mortal enemies, and Zack takes Vince down several pegs with pranks such as writing obscene comments on his monthly award photo. But when Super Club transfers Amy (Jessica Simpson) from another store, word gets around she has a thing for employees of the month. That's all the motivation it takes for Zack to strive for box-stocking excellence. Once Vince realizes Zack is threatening his record, he and his flunky Jorge (Efran Ramirez) conspire to keep him from achieving even minor success at mopping up spills or finding lost children. But as Zack starts to show Vince up, he risks becoming a company man and losing touch with his friends. Can he get the girl and keep it real?


Employee is suppose to be a vehicle for Cook's relatable, observational and sometimes smart-ass brand of humor. But either the script doesn't do him justice or his persona doesn't translate to fictional characters. His Zack seems like every other movie slacker, only tamer (writing "I love anal" is as edgy as his PG-13 pranks get) and less sympathetic. Shepard is more endearing as the pathetically work-obsessed Vince. His attempts to be charming are so outrageously uncomfortable you almost wish Amy would hook up with him and teach him a few social skills. Simpson is totally adorable as the all-American love object with enough self-esteem to make her seem attainable. Naturally, she also manages to squeeze her into some cleavage-producing dresses. The supporting cast, however, is all over the place. Ramirez shows he won't be typecast as the same Latino character he played in Napoleon Dynamite by playing a guy with no personality at all. George satirizes a typical Indian clerk but is not nearly as effective as, say, The Simpsons' Apu. Dick looks like he's going through some sort of substance abuse withdrawal, playing a cartoonish character with a cross-eyed condition, while Williams just does the same monotone weirdo he always does.


Silly comedies like this are hardly the type of movies directors use to express their range of cutting edge cinematic techniques. Usually if you just let the comedians run wild, it works. First-time feature director Greg Coolidge doesn't necessarily do anything wrong. The guys getting hit in the crotch are framed properly and the reaction shots are cut in with proper timing. The problem is the material just isn't funny. Coolidge had a hand in the script, so he is somewhat to blame for not beefing the laughs up with more insightful digs at warehouse stores or office romances. Employee feels more like a B-movie you'd watch on cable late at night, a vehicle for a standup comedian peppered with other TV show bit players, who are ALL capable of so much more. For example, Cook, Williams, and even Dick, do great stand-up. Shepard could have stayed in character in real life situations as he proved on Punk'd, or they could have found absurdity in everyday activities for Simpson. I mean, how could they not have her handle some bulk Chicken of the Sea? Come on, it's right there! Employee of the Month instead just wastes everyone's time.

Bottom Line rated this film 1 1/2 stars.