A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie -- which stars Dane Cook and Jessica Simpson -- is predictably rife with potty humor, foul-mouthed characters, sexual innuendo, and not-so-subtle racism and sexism -- which means kids will think it's a hoot. An African-American character is a dim-witted, gentle giant, while an Asian character willingly does favors for sweet treats. And let's not forget Hispanic nimrod Jorge with his vapid stare -- apparently Efren Ramirez (Pedro in Napoleon Dynamite) isn't too concerned about being typecast. In one scene, Jorge pulls a knife, and Vince says to him, "I thought you were Mexican, not Puerto Rican!" What century is this, again?
What's the story?
Vince Downey (Dax Shepard) and Zack Bradley (stand-up comic Dane Cook) both work at the massive Super Club store (think Sam's Club or Costco). But their careers have taken drastically different paths. In the 10 years he's been there, Vince has excelled, advancing to head cashier and winning 17 consecutive "Employee of the Month" awards, thanks in large part to his willing sidekick, Jorge (Efren Ramirez). Zack, on the other hand, is a total slacker who's still working as a box boy. But he changes his tune when the store hires gorgeous new cashier Amy (Jessica Simpson). After hearing that Amy sleeps with any guy who wins the monthly award, Zack decides to try to beat Vince at his own game.
Is it any good?
EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH is predictable and rife with innuendo and crude humor, but it has a few things going for it. Everyone can identify with mass consumerism run amok in these superstores, where products matter more than people and shoppers routinely walk out with truck-loads of Cheerios, Pepsi, and other "necessities" -- in that respect, the movie is reminiscent of Office Space set in a warehouse store.
Some of the best scenes feature Zack's buddies, played by Andy Dick (who, for once, isn't annoyingly hyper), Brian George, and Harland Williams. Simpson gives her usual bland performance, despite the blinding white teeth veneers. Tim Bagley is memorable as store boss Glen Gary, who shudders at the thought of his bullying brother (Danny Woodburn) -- named Glen Ross (David Mamet fans unite) -- paying a visit from Super Club's corporate offices. All in all, Employee of the Month falls far short of being truly memorable, but chances are it will still have a cult following among Cook's many fans.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why such stupid stuff is so funny to kids. Make sure they get the fact that a lot of the movie relies on stereotypical behaviors and characters for its humor, and ask them to talk about how they recognize the difference between real life and comedic cliches. You can also use the movie to discuss acceptable ways to win someone's affections. What would have been a better way to impress the new girl? Is it ever OK to use questionable behavior to get ahead? And shouldn't Zack have tried harder at work because it's the right thing to do, rather than just to impress Amy?
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