Basically a two-hander, the low-budget 10 ITEMS OR LESS
is the first feature film to be distributed on the Internet by a
company called ClickStar, a company that intends to compete in
the burgeoning new world of online distribution. As an initial venture,
this movie is a pleasant diversion, enlivened by the performances
of Morgan Freeman and Paz Vega.
At this point, Morgan Freeman is one of American cinema's
national treasures. Whenever he appears on screen, the audience
knows that they are in for a treat of sorts, even if the movie itself
is sub par. In 10 ITEMS OR LESS, Freeman gets to tweak his own
image by portraying a superstar actor who hasn't worked in about
four years, mostly because of a fear of committing to a project.
The character, merely known as "Him" in the credits, is a meta-version
of the actor. He's not exactly playing himself (although there are
references to Clint Eastwood and a running gag about a film made
with Ashley Judd that is now in the markdown bins), instead he
is portraying an exaggerated, fictionalized version of himself.
It's clear that Freeman is having a ball in the part and his infectious
performance lends a great deal of good will to this otherwise slight
The premise is that Freeman's character is researching a
potential role in an independent film. To that end, he wants to spend
a day researching his character, a supermarket manager, so he
endeavors to do so in at an establishment in Carson, a suburb of
Los Angeles. He soon discovers that the manager of the selected
market is missing in action and that the other workers are as lively
as zombies. All but one, that is.
The exception is Scarlet (Vega), a Spanish-speaking cashier
who operates the express lane and who takes a no-nonsense approach
to her job. Freeman's actor is fascinated to watch her work (especially
since she's the only one in the store who is doing any work).
Thanks to miscommunication and other explanations, Freeman's
actor is stranded at the market and Scarlet eventually agrees to give
him a ride home, but only after she takes care of an appointment.
When the actor learns that she has a job interview, he takes it upon
himself to coach her, much as if she is auditioning for a role.
The remainder of the film is given over to how their relationship
ebbs and flows over the course of the day, with each learning a
valuable lesson from the other.
This slight piece of work, written and directed by Brad Silberling,
has some amusing moments and thanks to the great chemistry between
Freeman and Vega is perhaps more enjoyable than it should be.
10 ITEMS OR LESS is not going to win any prizes, but it is a pleasant
way to pass the time.
MPAA Rating: R for language
Running time: 82 mins.
Viewed at the Broadway Screening Room
|10 Items or Less
|© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.