Employee of the Month
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Greg Coolidge
scr Don Calame, Chris Conroy, Greg Coolidge
with Dane Cook, Dax Shepard, Jessica Simpson, Efren Ramirez, Andy Dick, Harland Williams, Brian George, Marcello Thedford, Tim Bagley, Danny Woodburn, Sean Whalen, Barbara Ramsen Dodd
release US 6.Oct.06, UK 7.Jan.07
06/US Lionsgate 1h43

Meet the losers: Dick, Williams and Cook

cook shepard simpson

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Employee of the Month Blending goofy parody with a stupid plot, this is one of those comedies that keeps a smile on your face even though there are only a couple of actual laughs along the way.

Zack (Cook) is a slacker box boy at the mammoth Super Club discount store. He prefers to lay low with his pals (Dick's myopic eye-examiner, Williams' slaphead heavy lifter, George's electronics guru), rather than compete for the Employee of the Month title against star cashier Vince (Shepard). Then new cashier Amy (Simpson) appears, inspiring Zack to prevent Vince from winning a record-breaking 18th title. But will Zack have to leave his loser buddies behind to become the model employee?

Like a Todd Phillips movie (see Old School), this film has a ludicrously lazy script that expects us to laugh at silly antics whether or not they're genuinely funny. The characters are almost pathologically likeable, except of course the villains, who are relentlessly reprehensible. There's no shading to any of them; this is moviemaking for idiots. Although it's at least 20 minutes too long for its core audience's attention spans.

It's also the kind of undemanding movie you're probably looking for on a Friday night after a stressful week at work. There's enough clever satire in here to keep us alert, including lots of gags about the jumbo quantities you have to buy in these warehouse superstores, and even a blink-and-miss-it jab at American gun culture. The internal politics are played to the hilt, like a pathetically simplistic episode of The Office. But it's astute enough to keep us happy.

And the characters are just as easy on the eyes Most of these people are outlandishly cartoonish, and each has a collection of running gags to keep the whole thing rolling along merrily. Cook and, strangely enough, Simpson deliver the only natural performances in the film, creating believable characters we can almost identify with, and embarking on a by-the-books, PG-style rom-com courtship. Throw in plenty of fart jokes and you've got an engagingly bad movie that pretends to be rude and crude. But isn't, really.

cert 12 themes, vulgarity, language 10.Oct.06

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2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall