'Employee of the Month': Give the Blonde a Pink Slip

By Ann Hornaday
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 6, 2006

The '40s had Carole Lombard. The '50s had Judy Holliday. The '60s had Doris Day. The '70s had Goldie Hawn. Each generation, it seems, is blessed with a blond actress with eye-popping physical assets who also happens to possess warmth, goofy accessibility and superior comic timing. As "Employee of the Month" helps prove, this generation is lucky enough to have its own beloved dizzy, dazzling blonde.

Her name is Cameron Diaz.

Her name is emphatically not Jessica Simpson, the putative star of this laugh-free mash-up of "Office Space," "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and the NBC series "The Office." Considering who stars in the latter two vehicles, it bears noting that college comedy circuit star Dane Cook is no Steve Carell, either.

Simpson and Cook star as two service workers at a big-box store somewhere in the American Southwest; when Simpson's character arrives for her first day at work, rumor quickly spreads that she only sleeps with guys who qualify as, you got it, employee of the month. Cook's character, a box boy, quickly rises to the occasion, trying to outdo his closest competitor, a smirking brown-noser named Vince (Dax Shepard) who has a cult following of customers and his own lackey (Efren Ramirez, playing the same deadpan second banana he did as Pedro in "Napoleon Dynamite"). We're supposed to root for Cook's slacker because he rides a minibike and shops at a natural foods store while all those around him super-size.

Rarely has an actress exuded such blank nothingness as Simpson, a one-woman vapid delivery system who sucks the energy and joy out of every scene she's in, like some freakishly well-endowed black hole. Cook is no better in a movie that has nothing to recommend it, unless you count a nearsighted optician played by Andy Dick, who ekes a modicum of slapstick comedy out of his role. All else is dross in a film that shamelessly steals from earlier, better versions of itself, right down to Jim and Pam's "jinx" episode of "The Office." Shame, shame, shame and lame, lame, lame.

Employee of the Month (103 minutes, at area theaters) is rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, and profanity.

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