Lionsgate presents Employee of the Month. Written by Coolidge, Dan Calame and Chris Conroy. Running time: 103 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for crude and sexual humor, and language).
Shopping at a big-box store like Sam’s Club or Costco can be quite an experience. Navigating a cart, with a strange rattling sound, through aisles of clothing and sundry items just to be able to find what you are looking for is a challenge. You tell yourself you only need a few items, but leave with a trunk full. Then there’s the checkout stands with not-quite-enough checkers and long lines of incensed, irate customers.
If you can find the humor of big boxes and bulk discounts, then you may understand the rumpled-clothed slacker subversiveness of Employee of the Month. This movie from first-time director Greg Coolidge is neither a satire nor an allegory to the over indulgence millions go through each week, shopping at big-box stores and walking away with tubs of hair gel Ã¢â‚¬” because anyone who’s anyone needs slick hair.
Zack (Dane Cook) is our protagonist, an uncouth, uncombed, un-everything box boy at the discount chain Super Club. He’s the slacker employee that everyone adores. Everyone except Vince (Dax Shepard), the store’s numero uno cashier. He’s the fastest cashier in the Southwest region and has a legion of friendly customers who always request his checkout services.
For 17 consecutive months, Vince has been named Employee of the Month. To add insult, every time the other employees call it a day and start to head home, they get to see his bottled-blond countenance in all its framed glory in the staff lounge.
If Vince makes it to 18 months straight, he will have set an all-time company record and take home a “newish” 2005 Chevy Malibu. Finally, he can replace that awful monstrosity he calls a car, a 1981 Honda. Joining him in his quest is his lapdog sidekick Jorge (Napoleon Dynamite‘s Efren Ramirez).
Zack could care less, until Super Club gets a curvaceous new cashier, Amy (Jessica Simpson). Getting a little 411 on the Barbie girl blonde Ã¢â‚¬” thanks in large part to a few broken Butterfingers Ã¢â‚¬” suggests she has an affinity for guys who win the Employee of the Month. Such a revelation is all the motivation Zack needs to crawl out of bed, drink some coffee and show up to work on time full of piss and vinegar. Assisting him in his attempt to win the accolade are his doting friends (Brian George, Harland Williams and Andy Dick).
Both would-be suitors have their own style as they vie for Amy’s affection. Cook skates around the store on wheeled shoes, helping ladies load caskets onto their pushcarts. Shepard juggles and wows his female customers to point where room keys or panties could be thrown in his general direction at any moment. Jessica Simpson just grins with that bright smile of hers.
The rivalry intensifies as each tries to achieve gold stars for a given day; the first to 16 is the automatic employee of the month. Ensuing scenes have the two going out on dates with the adoring beauty. Where Vince’s date consists of dinner out and a goodnight kiss, Zack has a no-frills less is more approach. So it’s a night of go-kart racing, dinner and a movie, and a little miniature golf at the Super Club.
Watching them share laughs racing down the aisles is reminiscent of Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitte’s Dead, with Christiana Applegate and Josh Charles bouncing up and down through a store on giant balls. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought of this. Employee of the Month is full of jokes that have been seen elsewhere Ã¢â‚¬” a slew of 80’s comedies, more than likelyÃ¢â‚¬” which some viewers could easily deduce. The comedy seems forced, going for baited laughs. Though one laugh in particular truly stands out. The rule-of-thumb is that when it comes to curse words in a PG-13 movie, a certain word that rhymes with “yuck” can only be said once, and not with sexual connotations. When it occurs it is quite the surprise; definitely one of the best uses of a certain one-time-use expletive.
The cult success that befell both Clerks and Office Space must have been an aberration. As imitators (like this one) have come along but failed to duplicate the rebelliousness felt by millions of cubicle drones and McJob employees. Employee of the Month is a fruitless endeavor Ã¢â‚¬” funny considering the subject matter Ã¢â‚¬” that is too dumb for its own good. Strange to know that this little comedy, with better comic relief than actual stars, comes from a resident of Red Bank, New Jersey.
Don’t worry, Silent Bob gets a free pass on this one.
|Inside Pulse’s Ratings for Employee of the Month
||RATING(OUT OF 10)