Dir: Mitch Rouse. US. 2004. 97 mins.

Few films deserved a slot in the Sundance Film Festival less than the repellent Employee Of The Month, a bungled attempt to blend gross-out comedy with double-cross heist thriller which had buyers walking out and audiences shaking their heads in dismay in Park City.

Despite the odd directorial flourish and some talented actors doing their best to bring it to life, the film is difficult to watch for several reasons. Take poor Steve Zahn, usually such a reliable comic actor, who is made to deliver puerile dialogue offensive to every demographic imaginable and perform obscene acts with corpses before being shot in the head and set alight in the preposterous denouement. And that's just one character.

Teenage boys with low mental ages will probably find it funny, and that fact, combined with the strong production values and high level cast, will guarantee sales around the world if only for the film's probable pay-TV and video value.

The script by director Rouse, the creator of cult (very funny) TV series Strangers With Candy, and Jay Leggett is so over-loaded with ideas, genres and cringeable farce that it loses the viewer's engagement early on.

Dillon is David Wells, a successful bank officer and affluent fiance of the beautiful Sarah (Applegate). His best friend Jack (Zahn), whose career consists of pretending to be a coroner to rob corpses at car accidents, disapproves of David's bourgeois life. But David is happy, in love and confident of a promotion at his two year review down at the bank.

The review doesn't go well, however, and he is fired. Not only that but Sarah finds out that he has been cheating with her matron of honour-to-be Wendy (Bendewald) and dumps him. With nothing to live for, David decides to go postal on his boss and co-workers at the bank.

In the final stretch, the film switches gear as the story is suddenly revealed to be something else entirely, double cross follows double cross, and, as you would expect from a frat boy movie like this, it all ends in a lesbian fantasy.

Although it serves little purpose to the plot, Dillon's character is badly burned and the actor wears burn make-up on his face and body throughout the film. His valiant performance is a reminder of better days in his career, including the far superior There's Something About Mary.

Zahn's schtick has worked well in films like Happy, Texas, but even he can't salvage any humour from the character of Jack whose lines are woeful ('We all want to tit-fuck Liz Hurley' he proclaims at one point.).

The women in the cast come off slightly better. Applegate, a former US TV star whose star has been on the rise in studio films such as The Sweetest Thing and View From The Top, is appealing and Bendewald shows promise as the wicked Wendy.

Prod cos: Bull's Eye Entertainment, Bob Yari Productions
International sales:
Syndicate Films International
Cathy Schulman, Bob Yari, Tom Noonan
Mitch Rouse, Jay Leggett
John Peters
Main cast:
Matt Dillon, Steve Zahn, Christina Applegate, Andrea Bendewald