I will now tell you a story of wholesale ineptitude.
Zack (Dane Cook) has been working at Super Club for ten years but has yet to rise above the level of “box boy.” Vince (Dax Shepard) has also been at the Super Club ten years, but unlike Zack, he’s gone on to become the store’s #1 cashier and management favorite. Both men are comfortable with their respective situations, as Vince has his eye on climbing the corporate ladder while Zack contents himself with defacing Vince’s portrait and slacking as much as possible.
Their happy state of affairs is thrown into disarray with the arrival of new cashier Amy (Jessica Simpson), a blonde bombshell with a rumored penchant for bedding the employee of the month, a title which Vince has won 17 times in a row. If he makes it to 18, he wins a car and an assistant manager position, to say nothing of an opportunity to nail Amy. Zack, who senses an emotional connection with the new girl, decides to clean up his act and end Vince’s streak. Can he succeed? And how will Vince and his trusty sidekick Jorge (Efren Ramirez) foil his plans? More importantly, is there any earthly reason why any of us should give a s**t?
That last one’s easy to answer: no. “Employee of the Month,” the leading man debut of alleged stand-up comedian Cook, is remarkable solely for the apparent staggering lack of effort put into the film. The gags are tired (Vince and Jorge’s played-for-laughs homoeroticism gets old real quick), the story has all the adult appeal of an episode of “Dora the Explorer,” and every single actor looks as if they’d just as soon be passing a kidney stone.
Then again, Simpson looks like she’s just been burr holed at any given moment anyway, so who can tell?
“Employee of the Month” was undoubtedly pitched as a mash-up of “Office Space,” “The Office,” and…I don’t know…“Career Opportunities.” It lacks the intelligence of the first and the satirical edge of the second, but it does feature some Connelly-esque breasts, which is something. Seriously though, Simpson’s cans are the most accomplished performers here. They dominate every scene, barely restrained by plunging necklines, which makes it that much easier for us to ignore their owner’s utter inability to emote in even the most rudimentary primate fashion. A couple of hoots would be a vast improvement over whatever it is Simpson is doing onscreen here.
And then there’s Cook. Like his comedy or not (personally, I’d rather listen to Joan Rivers read Ulysses, but to each their own), the guy can convincingly portray aimless affability, but not much else. It likely won’t matter to the legions of Cook’s fratboy fans who’ll pack theaters to see their hero ride a miniature motorcycle and romance the vapid Simpson, just as they probably won’t think there’s anything hackneyed about characters getting hit in the balls, laughs at the expense of midget actors, or fart jokes. These are all hallmarks of lazy comedy, but none as egregious as rendering the excellent Harland Williams (who plays one of Cook’s fellow box guys) completely unfunny.
“Employee of the Month” is crap. It tries to toe the line between romantic comedy and vulgar pseudo-satire and fails at both. The presence of Ramirez, who looks poised to be this generation’s Geoffrey Lewis, is particularly annoying. It’s a vanity project, and one that will be forgotten once the majority of MySpace users graduate high school. If you’re in the mood for comedy, go see “Jackass 2.” If you’ve already seen that, go ahead and pass that kidney stone. I guarantee you’ll get more laughs from that than “Employee of the Month.”