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David Walsh (Matt Dillon) has it all. A great job in banking where he's loved by everyone and in line for a promotion, the beautiful Sarah (Christina Applegate) to whom he has just announced his engagement, the house, the car, the best friend, a bit on the side ... everything! On the morning of his two-year work evaluation, David is inexplicably fired, and when his fiancée throws him out after discovering his cheating ways, David's perfect life becomes the perfect worst day. With his low-life best friend Jack (Steve Zahn) egging him on, David decides to turn his bad luck around and, with a little help from some partners and guns, he sets about deciding his own fate.

Review by Craig Miller:
From Employee of the Month's opening set-up sequence where Matt Dillon's empty shell of a character sits amid the so-called garbage of humanity on a downtown L.A. bus, spouting off cheap, try-hard philosophies about L.A.'s public transport system, life, God and the guy sitting next to him that smells like he's soiled himself, you can tell first-time director Mitch Rouse has a bit of a mess on his hands.

Rouse and his Employee of the Month writing partner Jay Leggett (the two also wrote the screenplay for the more recent Without a Paddle, showing that they do indeed look capable with the pen), have created what is essentially half a film. The first two acts move at a snail's pace - apart from Dillon's character David Walsh losing his job and his girl, little else happens - and it's not until the final act where they decide to include the guts of the action and back-story and the character profiles and on and on and on, that the movie goes anywhere. Unfortunately, by the time the series of bizarre and utterly ridiculous twists and turns come within the last fifteen minutes, this film has well and truly out-stayed its welcome.

Dillon looks all at sea with his performance and, although much of that blame rests on the shoulders of Rouse and Leggett, as the lead player here he has to take a chunk of the responsibility, especially when he looks to be coasting along in dull mode.

Specific scenes involving Steve Zahn's homophobic, booze-swilling no-hoper Jack, where Zahn is given the opportunity to cut loose a little with the very dark humour surrounding his profession - Jack makes his cash by chasing ambulances, impersonating coroners and looting dead bodies - and his crass, over-the-top speeches are among the film's best. But even these are long-winded and over-directed and the end product is a feeling that there is just not enough plot to carry the film the full distance, so the scenes that contain the best content are padded out.

Without some snappy editing, occasional fast-motion camera shots and the film's use of a slick, contemporary "cool"-styled soundtrack, the rewards of sitting through this would be few and far between.

There's certainly no problem overall with the dark, politically incorrect humour and the exploitive nature of a lot of the film's comedy, but it's the structure of the film and weak story that is just a waste of time, and makes Employee on the Month easy to dismiss.

Published December 30, 2004

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(US, 2004)

CAST: Matt Dillon, Christina Applegate, Steve Zahn, Peter Jason, Andrea Bendewald, Fiona Gubelmann, Dave Foley.

DIRECTOR: Mitch Rouse

SCRIPT: Mitch Rouse & Jay Leggett

RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen 2.45:1, Dolby Digital 5.1


DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: December 23, 2004

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