Christmas is supposed to be a time for giving, but us cinema punters have been on the receiving end of a good old shafting so far this year. Hmm, let's browse down the listings for this week, shall we? Miss Potter: Renee Zellweger in another 'charming' biopic of someone I couldn't care less about (I'm more concerned about the fact that she never seems to open her eyes more than halfway. Seriously, it's disturbing). Apocalypto: a Mad Mel production targeted at those with an interest in Mayan history, which in my home town, is probably an audience in minus numbers (admitting you were into ancient history would get your ass kicked). White Noise 2: You gotta be fucking kidding me. Then there's Employee Of The Month: An hour and a half of men talking to Jessica Simpson's rack. There are about a hundred things I'd rather do than watch any of these films, and most of them involve nailing things to my penis. As I have no nails, I must decide, and the newlywed takes the spoils in a photo finish, a pair of norks ahead of Mrs. Magoo, Captain Mal and Johnny Bone-through-nose. Super.
Remember how crazy it was working in dead-end manual labour jobs? All those zany adventures you used to get up to and the madcap folk you'd meet? So do these guys! Laid back Zack (Cook) is a box boy in warehouse store Super Club, a stubble-chinned loser who zips around on those twatty little roller-heel trainers and passes the time taking pot shots at nerdy Vince (Shephard), the bleached blonde Head Cashier and the Employee of the Month for the last 17 months. Enter Jessica Simpson's tits, then shortly afterward, Jessica Simpson, playing new cashier Amy, a chick whose personal file reveals she's got a tendency to jump the bones of the Employee of the Month! The whore! Zack embarks on a bonkers adventure to take Vince's title away from him and win the girl of his dreams! But uh-oh, this means hard work for poor old Zack, and Vince isn't about to let his hard-earned title get away from him! Let the bonkers action begin! And the vomiting!
Apart from the breasts of Jessica Simpson, there's barely enough star wattage here to light up a shoe cupboard, let alone carry a movie. Dane Cook is yet another stubble-chinned, identikit himbo, the go-to guy when Ryan Reynolds is busy making stony-faced quips elsewhere. He has precisely zero screen presence, which is more than you can say for his on-screen buddies, comprised of that goofy-looking cop from Dumb & Dumber, the never-funny Andy Dick and an Indian guy who's like a less offensive version of Raj from the 40 Year-Old Virgin. Shephard is so-so in the role of Vince, probably the best thing in the movie, but it's still slim pickings: it's C-list comedians left, right and centre I'm afraid. They even hired Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite to be pretty much the exact same character, but in a convenience store. What casting genius! Simpson is the only bright spot, and that's based purely on her smoking physical appearance rather than her acting skill - she literally has about ten lines in the whole movie and still manages to look like her IQ is dribbling out of her ear.
Admittedly my chuckle-o-meter wasn't primed for any major rumbles on this one, but it barely got a workout. Apart from a couple of guaranteed slapstick gut-laughs (you've seen at least one in the trailer), Employee Of The Month's comedy warehouse is embarrassingly bare. People drawing crude things on photographs is not funny. People repeating what someone else says is not funny. People shouting at retards is... well, it sounds funny, but it isn't here. The characters are styrofoam stereotypes; the laid-back slacker, the hard-working asshole, the over-enthusiastic store boss, even the Indian guy is working to support his eleventy-thousand children. It's just goddamn lazy scripting, and it shows. Whatever happened to comedy characters that you care for, with proper personalities? The employees of Super Club couldn't be more drab if they had Tesco Value blue and white stripes on their uniform.
Quite frankly, it makes perfect sense that Employee Of The Month is a terrible comedy - there's simply no one funny involved. From the screenwriters down to the performers, it's just a laugh-free zone - funerals have higher gag rates. The sight of Jessica Simpson's barely restrained sweater chestnuts jostling for attention might just about make it worth watching if you're in your early teens and wondering why your lap feels all warm, but those of you who are fully pubic will be better off waiting for some decent films to turn up.