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Overall Rating

Awesome: 20.37%
Worth A Look: 20.37%
Average: 7.41%
Pretty Bad: 9.26%
Total Crap42.59%

2 reviews, 42 user ratings

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Employee of the Month (2005)
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by EricDSnider

"The best argument against Sundance."
1 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2004 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: Films with satisfying surprises in their finales operate on the principle that if you were to go back and watch the film again, you'd see the puzzle pieces were there all along and that you simply hadn't assembled them. A cheaper way to surprise your audience, and the method used by "Employee of the Month," is to simply lie to them. Tell them one thing up front and then, when you change everything around at the end, they'll sure be surprised! Surprised and pissed off, but surprised.

It is bad enough that "Employee of the Month" is a bad comedy for most of its running time. It adds insult to injury when, in its last act, is also becomes a bad heist movie, with crosses and double-crosses occurring entirely at random without regard for the facts already established. This makes it a bad movie in two different genre, an impressive feat, to be sure.

Matt Dillon plays David, a man with everything. He has just gotten engaged to Sarah (Christina Applegate) and is due for a promotion at the bank he works for, where everyone loves him. But instead he gets fired, rather inexplicably, and subsequently loses Sarah, too, when she discovers he's been cheating on her with her best friend Wendy (Andrea Bendewald).

David's best friend is Jack, played by Steve Zahn on a sort of Steve Zahn overdrive, as if he's compensating for people who have not seen his last five movies by being five times as wacky as he normally is. Anyway, Jack's a coroner who steals dead people's jewelry, and he's totally IN YOUR FACE! And he totally says WHATEVER is on his mind, no matter how politically incorrect it is! I mean, dude, that's gotta be freakin' HILARIOUS!

Oy. It's annoying, that's what it is, and I'm a guy who likes Steve Zahn. But this dreadful script, by first-timers Mitch Rouse and Jay Leggett (Rouse directed, too), doesn't know what to do with him. His anti-gay tirade is puzzlingly out-of-place in 2004, the sort of thing that would normally be followed by some kind of don't-be-such-a-jerk comeuppance. It's not, and while I have no problem with politically incorrect humor, such humor is still required to be funny, which this isn't. Most of Zahn's shtick is bad, in fact, making his character seem like a complete butthole, not a wacky sidekick.

The script generally suffers from under-editing. It takes some jokes too far and doesn't take others far enough. The dialogue is forced and strained, and the humor broad and generic.

And then come the surprises. It is alarming to realize this film was made by people who don't see any difference, in terms of entertainment value, between farcical comedy and graphic violence. It reminds me of "Bad Boys II" in that regard, attempting to foist corpses and blood upon us while still expecting us to laugh when someone gets a pie in the face.

It's ugly, sloppy filmmaking, made worse by those surprises being achieved by cheating the audience. If David tells us up front that he has just lost everything, his fiancee and his job included, and that he's a desperate man now, then that needs to be true. They teach you that in Screenwriting 101, a course I suggest Rouse and Leggett take, several times, before being given the green light on another film.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 01/20/04 05:48:55
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/06/13 odin child boring with a vulgar ending 2 stars
12/25/09 bafferfly i liked it. to heck with the critics. 4 stars
1/10/09 roger awful, tastless, 1 stars
10/03/08 SB Horrible! 1 stars
9/25/08 j pop i thought zahn was great, and the kids in the hall guy was hilarious. a little gem! 4 stars
1/10/08 Indrid Cold Hard to say if a good ending would have made it truly great, but still not bad at all. 3 stars
5/02/07 Tracey Chambers love movies like this 4 stars
4/17/07 Scott Very entertaining, shocking ending, Dillon shows off his acting in one soliloquy 4 stars
2/18/07 PrinceofMars Not so bad I think I could watch again. Feel sorry about crashed girls. 4 stars
1/24/07 rea I missed the time-travelling alien monsters... 1 stars
1/07/07 mamdouh great fun! forget the silly remarks of these pretentious 'experts". 5 stars
12/07/06 Evie I really liked it. L thought the twists were real cool. 5 stars
12/03/06 Reigels Really liked it, but reviewers will ruin it for you if they can. 5 stars
12/01/06 Liv I really liked it, the ending really took me by surprise. I really enjoyed it! 4 stars
10/16/06 zaw Too much twist at the end that the movie broke and make it suck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 3 stars
9/26/06 Clarence Turn it off at the 90 minute mark and you'll have yourself a solid little black comedy. 4 stars
6/22/06 Phil M. Aficionado It's bizarre, sloppy, contrived, and shockingly in your face. But a little bit fun, too 2 stars
2/28/06 Martin Come on baby, let's do the twist 3 stars
1/13/06 Mark David Very funny, some classic one liners, enjoyable - far fatched ending but so what! 5 stars
8/26/05 Peter Pavlov fuck 5 stars
7/18/05 Joe Open up your mind and enjoy the movie instead of being a critical little dweeb. 5 stars
7/07/05 Marguerite Ponder Some great lines, dark humor and tongue in cheek satire. Much better film than this review 4 stars
7/03/05 Gsrb Don't bother 1 stars
6/20/05 brit One of the best movies of it's time ... yet way ahead of it. 5 stars
4/24/05 Geraldine Awful 1 stars
4/23/05 Mindless Dweeb Uh, I kin of liked it. Guess I ain't good'nuff to be here. 4 stars
4/17/05 christi sucked 1 stars
2/24/05 ladybug worst movie ever 1 stars
2/02/05 Paul Fucked up ending 2 stars
1/16/05 Drew Lesperance Awful 1 stars
1/10/05 Corky exasperating shifts in tone and plot contrivances sink this one. 2 stars
1/08/05 uncmick Very entertaining. Many people won't 'get it' however. 4 stars
1/05/05 pete ostling One of the funniest movies I've seen...meminds me of "Brazil" 5 stars
12/29/04 ryan Complete rubbish. I like Matt Dillon but even he can't save this garbage. 1 stars
12/04/04 Anthony Oneill Tries to be clever, and even sunderland can do better than this! 1 stars
8/21/04 McGraw Nope! 1 stars
2/10/04 chelsea not such a bad movie, some funny bits 4 stars
1/29/04 Dana P. I saw this film at sundance and rellay enjoyed it. Kept me guessing. 5 stars
1/28/04 ender who're the schlubs getting paid to hawk this here? it sucks 2 stars
1/24/04 Melissa Bourne I loved it...original and the ending was a real twist...i did not see it coming...great! 5 stars
1/24/04 Matt Wilson I loved every minute. Bold dark comedy solid performances and a twist like nothin Ive seen 5 stars
1/23/04 sandy offensive, unlikeable characters, good acting, music, camera work, story line, shocker end 3 stars
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  04-Jan-2005 (R)
  DVD: 04-Jan-2005



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