EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH (Greg Coolidge). 103 minutes. Opens Friday (October 6). For venues and times, see Movies, page 97. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Think Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker (Airplane!) lite. Very lite. Director Greg Coolidge (Queen For A Day) has the same love of background gags, over-earnest performances and loops into pure slapstick nonsense.
But he can't sustain ZAZ's manic energy and inventiveness, and he doesn't try. Instead, he goes for character comedy that finds humour in a stance or glance. The result is an amusing light comedy that coasts on a semi-smart script and good performances.
TV actor/stand-up comic Dane Cook's easy charm and energy (think Dennis Quaid lite) make him perfect for the slacker box boy in the box store who decides to go for the titular honour so he can screw the new cashier, played by pop tart Jessica Simpson. Simpson has top billing, but all she does is stand around looking cute, which she does adequately.
The supporting players get lots of good moments. Andy Dick as the blind-as-a-bat glasses technician and Efren Ramirez, adoring henchman to the sneering top cashier (Dax Shepard), both bring a lot to the party.
Coolidge keeps things moving briskly even when the script sells itself out. Midway through, what started as a satiric swipe at big box hell turns to mush-minded redemption through love and pride in one's work.
Given the context, those noble sentiments play just like a fat, juicy kiss on the corporate ass.