EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH (2006)
Starring Dane Cook, Jessica Simpson, Dax Shepard, Efren Ramirez, Andy Dick, Tim Bagley, Brian George, Harlan Williams, Marcello Thedford, Danny Woodburn, Sean Whalen, Barbara Dodd Ramsen, Kathleen Arc, John Hardman and Adriana Cordova.
Screenplay by Greg Coolidge, Chris Conroy and Don Calame.
Directed by Greg Coolidge.
Distributed by Lionsgate Films. 103 minutes. Rated PG-13.
Not a newsflash: Jessica Simpson can’t act. Really, she’s just not good. Now before you say I’m just one of the many people coming down on her, I have to say I’m willing to give anyone a chance. Hell, about ten years ago, I was one of the only people in the world that came out of Fair Game and said, “Hey, Cindy Crawford wasn’t that bad.” However, after seeing this and The Dukes of Hazzard and even Simpson’s guest appearance on That 70s Show, I have to give in to the fact that Jessica is, indeed, that bad. Not because she leads with her cleavage (frankly, that’s her most impressive talent, anyway.) However, she stumbles through her role of a beautiful new cashier in a huge superstore with an constant blank look of puzzlement, like her co-workers are trying to teach her English as a second language or explain macrobiotics to her rather than making a series of slacker and fart jokes. (The macrobiotics might have been funnier.)
Not a newsflash #2: Dax Shepard can’t really act, either. This is more of a surprise to me, I guess, just because I have never really experienced anything he has done before. Apparently I’ve seen him in several TV series and even one or two movies over the years, but he made no real impression. You don’t expect too much, though, from a guy whose first movie role was as “vomiter at party” in a movie I’ve never heard of called Hairshirt. In this movie, he shows no range whatsoever; he plays a stuck-up idiot with little style and less sense of humor. It’s a one-note performance in a no-note role.
Kind of a newsflash: Dane Cook actually can act, sort of. He’s not up for drama, but he has a nice, relaxed slacker style which could work well in a movie which is better written than this one.
Employee of the Month is supposed to be, I think, a parody of the huge super warehouse stores, though it doesn’t really have much to say about them other than showing things in humongous bags and flaunting the fact that you can steal from them and slack your way through your job if you want. Oh, that, and they can make good playgrounds.
Cook plays Zack, a former dot-com speculator who has spent the past decade hiding in plain sight in a mind-numbing job. He hates Vince (Shepard) the BMAS (Big man at store) who loves his job and has won “Employee of the Month” seventeen straight months. There is a weird class warfare going on here between the cashiers and the box-boys; this is hardly a caste distinction that merits real concern for the rest of us, though.
Things change when Amy (Simpson) is hired as a beautiful, sweet, but kind of dim cashier. Word is that Amy has one romantic and sexual weakness, she throws herself at anyone who becomes employee of the month. (Yeah, that happens…) So the two start a no holds barred battle to win daily gold star stickers, just like they were in kindergarten.
Doesn’t really sound like a vital contest does it? It isn’t.
Strangely, there are some vague hints of intelligence deep in the script, though you really have to mine for them. For example, the brothers who run the store are named Glen Gary and Glen Ross. (I’m not even going to get into why the brothers have the same first name and different surnames, my head might explode.) However, I do have to appreciate the reference, even though I can’t imagine many people going to a Dane Cook/Jessica Simpson movie getting a David Mamet in-joke. I’m not even sure I get why it is done; yes I get that they are vaguely similar stories (about desperate employees trying to win a monthly sales contest), but on the food chain, Employee of the Month is to Glengarry Glen Ross as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is to The Maltese Falcon. (10/06)
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2006 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 9, 2006.