a critiQal film review Employee of the Month (2006)

Plot: When SuperClub slacker employee Zack (Cook) finds out the hot new cashier (Simpson) has a thing for the Employee of the Month, he will do whatever he can to take that title away from the current titleholder (Shepard), who has won the award the last 17 months in a row.

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  • ...hokey and cheesy, but still funnier than expected.

Oh boy. Freshly single Jessica Simpson is starring in a movie? Yikes. The first time I heard that, I cringed. While she filled out her daisy dukes well in The Dukes Of Hazzard, I figured that was a one-time thing. Now she’s in another starring role in the latest movie to be called Employee Of The Month (Check out IMDb – there’s been 3 of ’em in the past 6 years).

Since I already didn’t want to see it, I didn’t watch much of the previews for awhile. When I did finally check out the preview, I thought it looked rather pathetic, and my interest waned even further. However, Heather wanted to see it, so we finally rented it.

I wasn’t planning on watching it, instead just listening with half an ear as I worked on the site, but Heather was laughing enough I finally decided to tune in to Employee of the Month. Did her laughter bring to my attention a film I shouldn’t overlook, or was she just feeling especially giddy?

Dane Cook’s name has started to pop up all over the place recently, starting with his TV show, “Dane Cook’s Tourgasm” (TV), then again with Employee Of The Month, his first major starring role in a film. Turns out, he’s a comedian turned actor. Surprisingly enough, however, he plays it a bit low-key in Employee Of The Month, but definitely seems to have a presence in his scenes.

While having a presence in a store that’s a weak Costco-ripoff isn’t that impressive, he does manage to carry the viewers along rather well, despite this being his first leading-man role. His high energy is apparent throughout the film, making the viewer a little bit jumpy, but he does keep the viewer watching. Eventually, the viewer begins to relate to his character, and is willingly guided through the rest of the film.

Dax Shepard, who viewers may remember only as the astronaut in Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005), manages to present a bad, if rather dorky, villain in Employee of the Month that seems to be a good counterpoint for Cook’s character. The two of them work well as foes, and make their battles worth seeing.

Jessica Simpson, thankfully, is around mostly for eye candy, and doesn’t contribute much to the film.

The other characters do their parts, but don’t really contribute much to the overall film, aside from providing easy jokes – especially Andy Dick as an incredibly near-sighted pharmacist. The only exception is Brian George as Ikbal, whose character is a bit more fleshed-out than the others.

The plot in Employee of the Month is decent enough: two guys competing for the same girl. One has it all – except charisma – while the other has tons of charisma, and not much else. This has been done time and time again in films. The only difference here? It takes place in a store that bears a striking resemblance to Costco. While this doesn’t seem like much of a difference, the events of the film do play out rather differently. Rather than trying to please the boss by giving a good presentation, these two are on a race to see who can clean up the spill in aisle 5, or find the missing kid. This leads to a lot of comical situations, and the film plays each of those to the hilt.

Having worked in a grocery store myself at one point (and knowing someone who has a few things in common with Dax Shepard’s character), I could relate a bit more to the film than someone who has never worked at a grocery store. Maybe that means this film was a bit funnier to me (similar to Waiting… (2005) a couple of years ago).

Either way, Employee Of The Month was a lot funnier than I expected. While it’s still a bit hokey and cheesy, it’s funny enough to see once. Watching it again and again? Well, that would get rather old…and probably a little annoying.

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