out of Five
Running time: 103
Watchable comedy with likeable characters, though there's not much in the way of either wit or invention.
What's it all about?
Dane Cook (who is probably more famous in the States than he is over
here) plays Zack, a slacker who works as a box boy at the local Super Club discount store. He's mostly content to hang out with his loser buddies and do as little as possible, but when new cashier Amy (Jessica Simpson) arrives, Zack is inspired to win her heart by becoming Employee of the Month.
There's just one problem: star cashier Vince (Dax Shepard) has been the Employee of the Month for the last 17 months in a row and he's not about to give up the title easily, especially as an 18th victory would mean the reward of a new car.
The main point in Employee's favour is that the characters are extremely likeable and they keep the film watchable, even when the gags aren't working, which is often. Shepard makes for a decent adversary, playing a character that will be recognisable to anyone who has ever worked in a similar job.
The supporting cast are pretty good but the stand-out is Efren Ramirez (Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite), who pretty much steals the film as Vince's assistant, even if all he's doing is just standing there looking dopey.
The film's biggest problem is that it never really exploits its premise. As such, there's nothing really distinctive about it and it's nowhere near as offbeat or quirky as it thinks it is.
Jessica Simpson doesn't actually ruin the film (the way she did with Dukes of Hazzard) but she's not really required to do much other than provide a dazzling grin and parade around in a series of equally dazzling cleavage-tastic tops.
Basically, in the genre of workplace-based comedies, Employee is no Office Space, but it's nowhere near as bad as, say, Waiting, either.
Watchable, but entirely forgettable.
Employee of the Month (12A)