“Employee of the Month” takes place in a parallel universe. It’s a universe where customers have favorite cashiers at their neighborhood Costco and will literally cheer as they ring up their purchases in a flamboyant fashion. A universe where an employee’s personnel file lists the people she has slept with. A universe where Andy Dick is funny.
I have a hard time accepting any of these ideas, though I have to say that while “Employee of the Month” is not funny or good, it doesn’t quite rise to the level of offensiveness, either. It’s benign and flaccid, like a neutered dog’s penis.
Speaking of which, I would be surprised if the three guys who wrote the film — it took three guys to write this film — turned out not to be 15-year-old boys. Testicles, farts, gay sex and hits in the crotch comprise a noticeably high percentage of the film’s jokes. Even with Jessica Simpson as the female lead, they can only muster one half-hearted breast reference. But MALE genitalia! The film can’t stop talking about it!
Dane Cook, a once-hilarious stand-up comedian who has recently become too popular and complacent and is about to suffer a major backlash, stars as Zack, a lowly box-boy at SuperClub (which is definitely NOT Costco, so don’t even suggest it). Zack skates through his job lazily, hanging out with a trio of fellow slackers (including Andy Dick, enemy of all comedy) instead of working. Why exert yourself if you can avoid it, right?
Zack’s nemesis and polar opposite is Vince (Dax Shepard), the lead cashier and employee of the month 17 months running. (I can accept that Vince is a go-getter. But does NO ONE else at this store do ANY work to provide him with competition?) He wins it one more time and he gets a car as a bonus prize, an act of corporate magnanimity that takes us even further into bizarro world. Vince loathes Zack for his poor work ethic, and Zack hates Vince for being such a goody two-shoes.
Along comes Amy (Jessica Simpson), a non-descript but beautiful transfer from another store who is rumored to have a “thing” for employees of the month. She starts leaning toward Vince, of course, and that drives Zack to get his own act together and compete with Vince for this month’s title. If he wins, not only will he prevent Vince from getting that car, but he’ll win Amy’s heart, too.
I know what you’re thinking: This is the stupidest idea for a movie you’ve ever heard. I hear what you’re saying, and I do not disagree. The directorial debut from Greg Coolidge, writer of “Sorority Boys,” it’s marked by general carelessness and ineptitude, with an extraordinary amount of padding to fill out the run time. Why do we waste 10 minutes on a company softball game in the third act? And why even bother with the motif of Zack forgetting his slacker friends on the way to being an up-and-comer?
Vince is patterned after Michael Scott from “The Office”: cocky, insecure, boastful and delusional. He even has a Dwight-like sidekick, Jorge (Efren Ramirez), whose affection for him runs the risk of being funny before retreating comfortably back into the shadows of stupidity.
Oh, something else the movie thinks is funny: little children and old people swearing. I’m not saying it’s NOT funny; I’m just saying it’s not AUTOMATICALLY funny, every time, no matter what.
If you’ve already seen “Jackass: Number Two” twice and re-watched your Adam Sandler DVD collection recently, then “Employee of the Month” may be just what you need to tide you over until your next batch of weed comes through. Just keep staring at Jessica Simpson’s breasts, dude, and try not to dwell on the inordinate number of gay jokes you’re being pummeled with. TRY NOT TO DWELL.
D+ (1 hr., 43 min.; )