Employee of the Month (2006)
Employee of the Month (2006)

Genre: Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 43 min.

Release Date: October 6th, 2006 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Greg Coolidge Actors: Dane Cook, Jessica Simpson, Dax Shepard, Andy Dick, Tim Bagley, Efren Ramirez, Harland Williams, Brian George

 


 

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oes Dane Cook’s abrasive brand of stand-up comedy transfer over to the big screen in “Employee of the Month”? Well, not quite, especially with the restrictive MPAA designation. But the result is still a thoroughly enjoyable romp through the haphazard life of a miscreant grocery clerk and his crusade to get the girl, the glory, and the goods. Even if it’s full of raunchy comedy cliches, there’s enough of an amusing hodgepodge of immature pranks, frivolous rivalry, and lighthearted hooliganism to win over adolescent viewers – particularly those who have shared in the misfortune of holding a comparable job.

Zack Bradley (Dane Cook) is a lackadaisical employee at the Super Club bulk grocery store. He couldn’t care less about the company or his work ethic – until the new cashier, Amy (Jessica Simpson), arrives, carrying with her a reputation for sleeping with the “Employee of the Month” (a concept reminiscent of “Bull Durham,” though that contemporary classic was certainly not an influencing factor for this juvenile endeavor). Fueled by his lust and the jesting provocation of his friends, Zack sets about in his newfound mission to win the coveted award with uncommon zeal. He quickly discovers, however, that it’s not as easy as it looks, especially when his competition is the flamboyant Vince Downey (Dax Shepard), a longtime rival and the 17-time winner of that specific decoration.

While Dane Cook is admittedly funny as the cocky box boy, the supporting characters work overtime to keep the film from being bogged down by his repetitiveness. Andy Dick lends his distinct personality to Lon, the blind eyeglass technician, who steals every scene he’s in with idiotic one-liners and bespectacled slapstick. Harland Williams also snares the spotlight with hilariously lengthy analogies and bizarre cynicism (dialogue that feels as if improvised by the veteran comedian). Dax Shepard perfectly fills his villainous role as the uppity head cashier intent on suppressing Zack’s unexpected competition, crafting a nemesis that viewers will love to see fail. Efren Ramirez returns to his comedy roots as Downey’s easily manipulated sidekick bagger, garnering a number of laughs with physical comedy and foolish naiveté. And Simpson, though at home in a comedy-based romantic-interest role, is the only one who could have been replaced by just about any pretty face or exposed cleavage.

Comparable to the heavily R-rated “Alien” franchise merging with the equally R-rated “Predator” series to inexplicably form a PG-13 mash-up, Dane Cook’s generally edgy humor combines with a low-level customer service setting to produce a mellow PG-13 picture. Though “Employee of the Month” can handle tenderer laughs, it lacks the intensity of well-received R-rated flicks like “Wedding Crashers,” “The 40 Year Old Virgin,” or Cook’s own “Waiting…” from last year. It’s entirely unexpected for Lionsgate not to take a chance with maturer content, especially when its star power consists of someone with a following for notoriously crude stand-up routines. The end product will likely divert its target audience, but it can’t escape the feeling that it’s holding back all the best bits.

– Joel Massie

  • 5/10