Length: 82 minutes
Director: Brad Silberling (Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events; City of Angels)
Writer: Brad Silberling (Moonlight Mile)
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Paz Vega, Jonah Hill, Danny DeVito, Anne Dudek, Kumar Pallana, Rhea Pearlman, Bobby Cannavale, Jim Parsons, Leonardo Nam, Jennifer Echols
“10 Items or Less” starts off with the appeal of an early/mid 90’s indie picture and then slowly (and I do mean slowly…) ends up wearing out it’s welcome and coming across as a poor man’s “Lost in Translation”- particularly when you learn that writer/director Brad Silberling isn’t much of an indie figure at all. He’s the guy that brought the world the film version of “Casper” and “City of Angels”. Somewhere a small movie that deserved a chance was shelved for this one instead and that’s a real shame. A movie star played by Morgan Freeman (and implied to be Morgan Freeman) visits a small L.A. food market to research his comeback role for an independent picture where he may or may not be set to play a market manager. He’s dropped off by a stoner crew member (Jonah Hill- irritating. His schtick is wearing thin) and immediately gravitates to the 10 items or less line run by the sassy Spanish Scarlet (Paz Vega). After her shift ends, Freeman realizes his ride has left him and Scarlet offers to give him a ride home, but she has some errands to run first. And so begins their day together- they stop by and see her idiot ex-husband (Bobby Cannavale), shop at Target, prep Scarlet for a job interview, etc. Not much happens, which can be okay if you have a film that can rely on it’s characters and dialogue to pull you through, but “10 Items or Less” can’t cut it. Freeman (who also co-produced) is, without a doubt, an incredibly talented actor and he’s allowed to be lose here for a change. He has plenty of charm, but something about him starts to wear thin. He’s almost too charming. As the “fish out of water” in a lower class section of L.A., he doesn’t have the wear of life that Bill Murray brought to “Lost in Translation”. He’s too happy if you know what I mean. Vaga seems like she was picked after Penelope Cruz turned down the role. She has talent and I’d like to see her turn up in something better suited for it. The interactions between the two come off as forced. Silbering likes his idea, but he isn’t sure what to do with it. It’s almost like he wrote the script and had to think of places for his characters to kill time so they could make to the end of the movie. There’s plenty of jokes riffing on Freeman’s movies with Ashley Judd- which end up in various places in the discount bin in the movie. Funny, I imagine this movie will have a place in the same bin pretty soon.
Buy the DVD Here