With a wink and a nod, Morgan Freeman plays an actor known for interchangeable thrillers and voiceover work who's considering an indie-flick role as a grocery store manager. While researching the role, he meets Scarlet (Paz Vega), a cashier at the "10 Items or Less" lane who'd rather have a secretary job.
Big question: Can writer-director Brad Silberling ("Moonlight Mile") tell a memorable slice-of-life story in barely more than 70 minutes?
Catch it: Silberling keeps things fresh and makes the central friendship totally organic. These two loners both need to kick their life back into gear, and it's pleasant to watch them spend a day together and gain the strength to do it.
Skip it: If you love flicks like "High Crimes" and "Along Came a Spider." "10 Items or Less" has a good time generalizing about "that Ashley Judd movie" and letting Freeman's character spot his own movie on the sale rack.
Bottom line: In and out as fast as a trip to the store, this is clearly an enjoyable side project for everyone involved, but the film's incredible lightness and brevity doesn't allow for a lot of substance. But as a collection of moments between a man who views an interview as an audition and a woman who sees life as a limited number of happy items, "10 Items or Less" is worth the price.
Bonus: Did "Employee of the Month" make you think no decent movie can be set in a retail environment? It's amazing how much better the scenario works when the actors aren't Jessica Simpson and Dane Cook.
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
'10 Items or Less'
Written and directed by Brad Silberling; photographed by Phedon Papamichael; edited by Michael Kahn; music by Antonio Pinto; production design by Denise Pizzini; produced by Julie Lynn, Lori McCreary and Silberling. A ThinkFilm release; opens Friday. Running time: 122. MPAA rating: R (for language).
Him - Morgan Freeman
Scarlet - Paz Vega
Bobby - Bobby Canavale
Lee - Kumar Pallana