EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH
Zack Bradley (Dane Cook) and Vince Downey (Dax Shepard) have both been working at Super Club, the largest bulk-discount retailer for ten years. Vince, with the help of his box-boy sidesick Jorge (Efren Ramirez) works as head cashier, and is the proud winner of 17 consecutive Employee of the Month Awards. By contrast, Zack is scruffy and lazy, being content to remain a box boy, and values the friendship of his colleagues. No employee has ever won 18 consecutive awards, and Vince is desperate to do so and win the sought after prize of a new car. Equally desirable is the chance to win the affections of the store's glamorous new cashier Amy (Jessica Simpson), who has a reputation for dating the Employee of the Month. Even Zak is inspired to compete.
Review by Louise Keller:
A harmless lowbrow comedy with a splash of the offbeat, Employee of the Month has a shelf-full of stereotypical characters who work in the hierarchy of a discount store that sells everything in bulk - from condoms to hair gel. There's the tall, blond, smarmy Vince (Dax Shepard), who specialises in impressing customers and management by using the check-out as though he were a juggler in Cirque-de-Soleil. There is bulk animosity between Vince and lovable loser Zak (Dane Cook), a 'zak of all trades', who has never progressed beyond the lowly status of box boy, and lives with his sprightly elderly Grannie (Barbara Dodd). Jessica Simpson plays the buxom blonde, who neatly pours her curves into scoop-necked, clinging sweaters, and becomes the object of both men's desires. It's predictable and formulaic, with some slapstick, visual and toilet humour that may not have you falling in the aisles, but amuses in a non-demanding way.
When Zack decides to compete against Vince for the monthly award, he is given some good advice. His colleague Iqbal (Brian George) tells him the Universe has a plan and to 'do it for yourself and everything will follow, including the girl'. His grandmother also has some tips, which open up an unexpected strand to the storyline. Cook and Shepard are both tall and funny, and together offer a contrast of styles. Surprisingly, it is the stand up comic (Cook) who plays it straight, while Shepard delights in ad-libbing and creating a wildly, over-the-top character. Simpson has little to do beyond display her physical assets, although, in the scene when Zak takes Amy out for their first date, she reveals a vulnerable sweetness that is most unexpected.
There is nothing terribly realistic about Zack's transition from slobby to conscientious, but Cook is likeable and we want him to succeed (and win the girl). The rest of the characters are a strange lot - there's Tim Bagley's store manager Glen Gary who plays with his Ken dolls, his dictator-like brother Glen Ross (played by 4' Danny Woodburn), Marcello Thedford's dim-witted security manager Semi and Andy Dick's near-sighted optical expert. Jorge (Efren Ramirez) is terrific as Vince's stooge and whipping boy. The heart of the film lies in Zack's realisation that it is his friends that make everything worthwhile, and we have fun watching Vince getting his comeuppance. Mindless fun.
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EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH (M)
CAST: Dana Cook, Jessica Simpson, Dax Shepard, Andy Dick, Tim Bagley, Brian George, Efren Ramirez
PRODUCER: Peter Abrams, Barry Katz, Robert L. Levy, Andrew Panay, Joe Simpson, Brian Volk-Weiss, Brian Weiss
DIRECTOR: Greg Coolidge
SCRIPT: Greg Coolidge, Chris Conroy, Don Calame
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Anthony B. Richmond
EDITOR: Tom Lewis
MUSIC: John Swihart
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Gary Steele
RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hoyts
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 8, 2007