price check

I’ve liked Parker Posey as an actress since Dazed and Confused [1993] where she played the wonderfully horrible bitch, Darla Marks, and had one of the best lines ever: ‘What are you looking at? Wipe that face off your head bitch’ (or something to that effect). Since then, a role on the Christopher Guest roster, a couple of endearing indy comedies and a few Hal Hartley films has cemented Posey as one independent cinema’s leading actors. The preview for Price Check made it out to be a relatively funny, clever little indy film about old supermarkets and management skills and probably some sort of big city vs country town sub-plot as well and you kinda just expect that it’s going to be one of those films where of course everything just turns out for the best in the end and the characters all have pretty clear motivations and relatively simplistic moral compasses.

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Not at all.

Price Check is actually a rather dull, exceedingly muddled drama posing as a cautionary tale with three particularly hateable main characters that are all narcissistic sociopaths. The plot tells of Pete (Eric Mabius), a slacker by choice who is in a job that he doesn’t like – as an undefined office guy working for a chain of low-rent stores or supermarkets or something – and refuses to move up the corporate ladder because he doesn’t want responsibility. Enter Susan (Posey), a completely motivated executive type that has found herself in the backwaters of the giant supermarket conglomerate because of some people that pissed off back in LA. Determined to make the most of a shitty situation, she proceeds to implement some serious changes and whip the locals into shape in order to get herself a guernsey back in the head office big leagues. She takes an instant liking to Pete and not only doubles his salary, but also befriends his wife Sara (Annie Parisse), and quickly ingratiates herself into his life. She completely plays the poor sap, who is happy to be doing something with his life, but also torn because he doesn’t much care for supermarkets. Susan and he start fucking with no remorse, but Sara, who has a pretty strong inkling that something is up, doesn’t really care as long as the payments on the new Volvo keep getting made. Pete, by virtue of being a man, is about to get the promotion that Susan was vying for, until she discovers it and fires him unceremoniously. Pete, who wants to go back to the music industry, is browbeaten by his wife into finding another executive supermarket job and the film ends.

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Price Check tries really hard to be an adult drama about life choices and harsh realities and complicated lives and blurry moral codes and blah. It fails. It’s a messy, boring, poorly edited load of slop that goes on too long, and has characters that, in their efforts to be ‘real’ actually behave in unexplainable ways. Parker Posey is great as a crazy strong boss lady, but that one positive does little so save such a muddled film.

Better left in obscurity.