|Employee of the Month (2006)
Starring: Dane Cook, Jessica Simpson, Dax Shepard, Efren Ramirez, Andy Dick, Harland Williams
Director: Greg Coolidge
Joe Simpson is a pimp.
I’ll explain that.
Jessica and Ashlee Simpson’s father is one of the executive producers of “Employee of the Month,” a slacker comedy whose characters bear little resemblance to anyone you’d run across in real life, and Joe, in his infinite wisdom, thought this vapid little movie was the perfect vehicle for his little Jessica. Then again, I suppose this kind of business strategery is to be expected from the man who once said about his eldest daughter, “She just is sexy. If you put her in a T-shirt or you put her in a bustier, she's sexy in both. She's got double D's! You can't cover those suckers up!” Classy with a K, as my friend Geoff would say. Dude is whoring out his children for money, which, in my book, makes him a pimp.
“Employee of the Month” stars Dane Cook as Zack, a free-wheeling box boy at Super Club (it was shot in a CostCo, but they refused to let them use the name in the movie) who loves his low-maintenance life and his slacker buddies (two of whom are Harland Williams and Andy Dick, surprise) but despises the phoniness of pompous head cashier Vince (Dax Shephard), a fast-track career man who endlessly flaunts his skills as the fastest cashier in the southwest. When cute new cashier Amy (Simpson) transfers to their store, the mutual contempt between Zack and Vince becomes an all-out war when Zack learns that Amy has a thing for Employees of the Month, an honor which Vince has won each month for the last 17 months, while Zack hasn’t even won Employee of the Day. He vows to win the coveted award and steal the girl, unaware of what it may cost him in the process.
When I walked out of the movie, I was trying to figure out if the movie had a moral. The first one that came to mind was, “Gaining your self-respect will cost you your friends.” That was clearly not the point they were trying to make, but the fact that I walked out with that impression is a testament to how poorly they set up and executed, well, everything. The only time people act the way they do in this movie is in other movies. Especially the randy grandmother, which is a stereotype I’d like to officially strike from the list of colorful sidekicks. There is so little to relate to in this entire movie that it’s difficult to care how it ends. Obviously you want Zack to win Amy’s heart, but he was well on his way to doing that anyway, and then the plot stepped in and fouled things up for no reason other than the movie needed some conflict. The smartest thing in this movie was the names of the store’s manager and his executive brother, Glen Gary and Glen Ross. The clever factor takes a steep drop from there.
The most surprising thing about “Employee of the Month” is that the hyperactive Cook handles himself quite well in front of the lens. I expected him to be a spaz throughout, but he was anything but. Indeed, of the three leads, he came out smelling the best, though that doesn’t mean much when one of the two leads is Jessica Simpson. Sorry, Joe, but I hope you have a Plan B for whoring out your daughter, because she ain’t an actress, double D’s be damned. And how do you waste a supporting role by Andy Dick like this? Hasn’t anyone involved with this movie seen “NewsRadio”?
This may sound preposterous after I’ve bashed it so, but with a little guidance, “Employee of the Month” could have been the next “Better Off Dead.” You have the lovable loser who finds himself in a battle for the affections of a girl that is clearly a better match for him than the popular blowhard. With all of those parallels, plus the whole buying-generic-hair-gel-in-bulk in-joke, how could they get it all so wrong? I don’t know, but boy howdy, did they get it wrong. If you must see this, do what one of my critic brethren did: have a couple of drinks first. He laughed more than the rest of us combined, and even he will tell you that it was the booze talking.
The single-disc release of “Employee of the Month” may just be one of the worst DVDs of 2007. Sure, the audio commentary with director Greg Coolidge and star Dane Cook is enjoyable at times, but the rest of the special features pale in comparison. You’ll see Harland Williams and Andy Dick ad-lib a few scenes, witness a lame clip of Dick in character, and even sit through a short alternate opening sequence, and it will take all of ten minutes to finish all three. That’s what you’d call a jam-packed DVD. Not.