Another attempt for Jessica Simpson to keep her career above water, "Employee of the Month" throws the singer/actress in with a group of comedic talents with the intent to make her look better. Instead, they manage to take over the picture, shuttling her off to the background. The picture focuses on a group of employees at a local SuperClub (think Sams or Costco), including a slacker box boy named Zack (Dane Cook) and Vince (Dax Shepard), a seventeen time winner of "Employee of the Month".
When new cashier Amy (Jessica Simpson) arrives on the scene, Zack decides to try and change his ways because he's heard that she has a serious thing for guys who win Employee of the Month (which is rather bizarre, but whatever.) Quite unwilling to give up his title without a fight, the battle over Amy quickly escalates.
Again, director Greg Coolidge ("Sorority Boys", which I still think is actually funny, although I'm apparently the only one) has surrounded Simpson with a reasonably talented ensemble. Shepard is often funnier than the material as an arrogant cashier who puts on shows of speed at the register. Andy Dick and Harland Williams are also amusing as co-workers who are on the size of Vince. Cook, unfortunately, doesn't make much of an impression in his first major role, as his "everyguy hero" is a little bland. One of the reasons why Coolidge's "Sorority" worked as well as it did was because the three stars truly threw themselves into the low-brow comedy, which you don't get here.
However, he's certainly better than Simpson. While I've never disliked the singer, this truly stands as one of the first times that I can remember that I've ever truly witnessed what can be called a "non-performance", as she stays just a hair above being completely blank. It also appears as if her role has been cut down for the final cut.
The other main issue with "Employee" is deeper than Simpson's supporting effort; it's that the movie simply starts to run out of material. While one would think that there's a lot of material about Costco-like stores (see Mike Judge's "Idiocracy", which actually also stars Shepard, for evidence of this), the script just doesn't find it. Once the movie hits the halfway point, it just starts getting repetitive - this is a 90-minute movie (if not a few minutes less) stretched out to 108 minutes. Believe it or not, the movie even tries to get a little sentimental towards the end.
"Employee" certainly isn't the worst film to hit theatres in the last year - it's simply a forgettable little comedy. Still, that doesn't change the fact that the jokes here are just too few-and-far-between (and that Simpson should never act again.)
VIDEO: "Employee of the Month" is presented by Lions Gate in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Picture quality is just fine, with decent sharpness and detail throughout the show. Minor artifacting is seen, but the majority of the film appeared clean and clear. Colors looked a tad flat, although this is likely the intended appearance.
SOUND: Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1-EX (why this needed to be repurposed for EX I have no idea), the film's audio is purely a "comedy mix", rarely using the surrounds aside from a few instances of slight effects and ambience. Audio quality is fine, with clear dialogue.
EXTRAS: Commentaries from Cook and director Greg Coolidge (one with just the director, one with Cook and the director)
Final Thoughts: "Employee of the Month" gets a couple of laughs, it's otherwise a boring way to pass 108 minutes. The DVD presentation offers fine audio/video quality and a few decent extras, but I'd still say skip this one.
The Film C-