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RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes
· Commentaries featuring Greg Coolidge and Dane Cook
· “At Work with Lon”
· Alternate Opening
· MySpace Video Contest winners
It’s your typical, slacker tries to get the girl comedy, only this one dares to include zero laughs.
Dane Cook, Dax Shepard, Jessica Simpson, Andy Dick, Harland Williams, Sean Whalen
Zack (Cook) is a slacker who skates through life because he wears those retarded Heelys. Deep down inside there’s a productive member of society waiting to burst from his chest, joining the faceless, nameless, masses. He works at Super Club, a stand-in for Costco. The seedy underworld of warehouse stores is finally revealed. Mass consumerism and gluttony is lambasted. Wait. Jessica Simpson is in this movie? Fuck it all.
“You employees of the month are all the same.”
I finally laughed during Employee of the Month once Jessica Simpson spit out that deplorable line of dialogue. Up until that point, the movie had been an unfunny comedy. Finally, after an hour and 20 minutes, the movie hit hilariously bad territory. Sadly, there was only fifteen minutes left. The movie is so powerfully unfunny that other films around it on the DVD shelves will have their laughs sucked out of them. Tough break for Emperor’s New Groove and Encino Man.
First it was Peter Dinklage, then it was Warwick Davis! Where’s my call for Prince Caspian!
Everything about this movie is misguided. First off, there’s the casting of the main characters. Dax Shepard and Dane Cook should be playing the opposite parts. Cook has a natural sarcastic edge to his speech. He would have been better off conceding lead status and playing the foil to Shepard. Shepard appears to be capable of acting, and could pull off a likeable character. Cook doesn’t so much play the role, as he projects an extension of his comedy routine. He’s just not a very likeable lead. Jessica Simpson is, predictably, a train wreck with a pair of knockers. Luckily for her, the character calls for low cut tops and not much else. She never seems to have more than one line at a time. A porn star could have been brought in to adequately play this role. She probably would have brought better acting chops to the table.
The story is a hodgepodge of the ridiculous and formulaic. The proceedings are all very standard. Slacker suddenly finds motivation (in this case bountiful breasts) to do something with his life, he loses sight of his goal, alienates the girl and his friends, then finally redeems himself making lobotomized viewers everywhere cheer. It’s been done so many times now it should be given the Pete Rose treatment. Why is the slacker always the hero in these movies? The ambitious employee character can’t get a fair shake. Most of the ambitious people I’ve met don’t seem to be socially awkward creeps. Ah, the magic of movies.
The elusive Daylight Savings Fairy is finally caught on camera.
All of the formulaic points are covered in an amazingly ridiculous premise. Simpson plays a new co-worker. Her personal file implies that she loves to bone the employee of the month. This makes Zack suddenly want to be a better employee. Managers across the world take note. Boobs equal productivity. Zack’s plan to win employee of the month conflicts with that of Vince (Shepard). Vince is in line to win a car because he’s about to be employee of the month for 17 or 18 straight months. The exact number doesn’t matter because it’s arbitrary and dumb. The two begin competing in as many far fetched ways as possible. It’s just as painful to watch the plot unfold as it is to detail it out for this review. Also, nobody takes a fucking day off, not even on weekends.
The movie is intended to be a comedy, so the plot shouldn’t really matter. There have been plenty of great comedies with outlandish or no plots at all. The difference is those movies were funny. I’ll let all kinds of bad filmmaking slide if the movie consistently brings laughter. Employee of the Month fails to do that at every turn. The best it could manage out of me was two chuckles on lines that were likely improvised. Andy Dick and Harland Williams are mildly amusing as two of Cook’s buddies at Super Club. The problem is that both of their characters are so far removed from real people that anytime they are about to speak it’s easy to predict that something wacky or obscene will be said. Jokes are telegraphed from galaxies away. That’s a good distance to keep between this movie and yourself.
Drop Honda and you’ve got a review for the movie that’s better than anything I could write.
The movie comes with a fair amount of extras. There are two commentary tracks; one featuring director Greg Coolidge and the other featuring Cook and Coolidge. It’s painful to listen to the track with Cook. On four separate occasions he compliments his own hair. Other times he praises his acting abilities, “Not to toot my own horn here, but I’m wonderful.” He might have been trying to say these things as a joke, but I’m not buying into that. The frequency with which he says them leaves me no reason to believe he is anything but a conceited douchebag. It’s a shame really. I think Cook was generally a funny guy, but at some point within the last couple years he bought into his own hype and hasn’t been funny since. The other problem with the commentary, besides the presence of Cook, is the long periods of silence. The pair spend too much time watching and laughing at their unfunny creation. The director only track is far superior. Coolidge doesn’t get caught watching the movie. Instead, he goes into pretty good detail about the production.
Every comedy seems to include a section of ad-libs by the cast. Why bother if the ad-libs aren’t funny? Only Andy Dick and Harland Williams are shown in this section. Their improvised lines are on par with the rest of the movie. At Work with Lon is a two minute clip of Andy Dick doing what he does best, and that’s be an asshole. There are also two of the three winning videos from the movie’s MySpace contest. Cook introduces the clips with a ‘thank you for buying MY DVD.’ Good to know that he did everything by himself. The videos are fine examples of this film’s target audience; large foreheaded Cro-Magnon types.
Can’t look down. Must fight the urge.
An alternate opening is the other featured extra. It’s actually a good way to open up the movie and establish Cook and Shepard’s characters. Eva Longoria provides a cameo that would have set-up a decent gag during film, and provided at least one hot chick in the movie. Why they chose a different opening is perplexing as it actually seemed to work. Just add that to the list of mistakes made on this film.