Sundance Review: Price Check

Price Check has such promise. Parker Posey is great as the neurotic Susan Felders, a high-strung, overly emotional grocery chain executive. She's just been hired on with grocery store conglomerate named ACS to restructure their stores so they can compete with the likes of Wal-Mart. Peter Cozy (Eric Mabius) is an employee who doesn't particularly like his job with ACS, but puts up with it because he needs the money. In order to drive the point home, figures are repeated constantly as we find out over and over exactly the amount of the Cozy family's credit card bills, car payments, and mortgage. This information is annoyingly repeated again and again because the director wants us to desperately relate with these characters. He wants us to say, "Hey, these people are just like me. They have bills. I do too. I'm going to like them."

Getting us to relate to his characters is a fantastic idea, if the screenplay didn't call for alienating the audience halfway through the movie. The movie soon turns into a been-there-done-that office affair story where suspicions are raised and marriages are threatened. Paying the bills has now become secondary to the tired and weary plot of employee / boss sexual relations.

The sad part is that director and writer Michael Walker does a good job building up conflict in the movie. Peter's work and personal lives slowly come to a head. The tension that has been building up between him and his wife becomes unbearable. Maybe we're going to have some real conflict, maybe the movie is going to give us a real reason to care for Peter's plight. Maybe, just maybe, the movie is going to go to the dark, emotional side it's been hinting at this whole time, and then… nothing.

That was the most frustrating part of Price Check. There are no consequences for anyone's actions, no feelings that must be mended. No fires to put out. Not one single dramatic hoop to jump through, because when the going gets tough this movie shuts down. All of the tension and marital angst that has been building up is completely and utterly forgotten about. With one simple fade-to-black the movie has totally forgot about the affair, the bills and how tough it is to find a job in this economic climate. It's too worried about a nice, far too sweet ending.

Grade: C