LKMYNTS: 10 Items Or Less.

I bought this movie on a whim a year or two ago at a Hollywood Video closeout sale. It seemed interesting and had Morgan Freeman in it, so why not? When I first watched it, I wasn't underwhelmed, but I wasn't overwhelmed, either. I suppose I was just whelmed. I enjoyed it, but I didn't love it, in other words. However, I just rewatched it for the first time since then last night, and I have to say... I really liked it this time around.

The movie is about an image-obsessed, out-of-work actor (Morgan Freeman) who has been out of the game for 4 years. But now he has the chance to star in a low budget indie film by a young, first time director. He'd be playing a grocery store manager, and being the method actor he is, he wants to visit the same kinda store he'd be in for the movie and research the part. But while he's there, he takes more of a liking to one of the cashiers, Scarlet (Paz Vega), a young woman with a short temper and her own problems to deal with. But when his ride doesn't come back to pick him up, and he forgets his recently changed phone number, he's forced to ask Scarlet for a ride home. But in the process, he forms a friendship with the young woman that he'll never forget.

First, the movie is riddled with great actors, and I'm so surprised it didn't get a bigger release. Of course there's Morgan Freeman and the incredibly underrated Paz Vega. But there's also a fun cameo by Jonah Hill at the beginning as the guy who gives Morgan Freeman a ride to the store. And then there's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance by Leonardo Nam (AKA the best thing in 2004's Breakfast Club heist film, The Perfect Score... as well as a few other films). There's another brief though funny cameo by Danny DeVito and his wife Rhea Perlman.

But really, Freeman and Vega are the heart and soul of this film. Paz Vega, especially, is magnificent. She takes to the role with such a raw emotionality that you really feel for her and her life struggles. Morgan Freeman, of course, is Morgan Freeman. He's awesome. But the humor he adds to the role with his little notes on how people act everyday, or anytime he talks about looks, either his or others. His fascination with the lower- and middle-class world is almost reminiscent of, say, Arthur Weasley's fascination with muggle inventions. Walking into your neighborhood Target is an adventure. And if you were shocked by Freeman's F-bomb in Wanted, you'll be speechless in this film. His language isn't gratuitous at all (not like Travolta's recent turn in Pelham 123). It's all very natural, a rarity with cussing in films.

And that's a really good thing about this film. It's very natural. The story feels like it could happen. While you might not get a visit from an A-list actor wanting to follow you around anytime soon, the characters felt real--again, especially Paz Vega's Scarlet. And the strangest thing about all of this is that it's written and directed by the same guy (Brad Silberling) who directed such films as Casper, Lemony Snicket, and the very recent Land of the Lost. It's like this film doesn't even fall into the same realm as those movies... in story, acting, quality, you name it. I haven't seen all of his films, but I don't think I would be remiss to say this one is his diamond in the rough.

The only thing about this film is its length. The movie is a short 82 minutes, but I think it works... for the most part. I wouldn't have minded seeing more of these characters, but then I feel it could have gone on too long for no reason. The point of the film is the relationship between its two stars, and the relationship does span its course. It has a beginning, middle, and end point. Though the end is simultaneously depressing and heartwarming, which is strange. But on the whole, it worked.

The only other thing to mention that I liked about the film was its meta qualities. If you pay attention, you'll notice that anything Morgan Freeman says about acting or characters or any of that almost always correlates with what's happening in the movie. So it's almost like he's talking about films in general while the film he's in is doing exactly that. And, to me, that's something pretty smart I didn't catch the first time (there was also a lot of humor I didn't catch the first time). It's all very subtle, though.

So I recommend going out and at least giving this a rent and see what you think. The acting in it is brilliant, and the comedy should get a few chuckles out of you. I have no idea why this didn't do better or why Paz Vega isn't a bigger actress (at least in America). It's not like she's ugly. She's like the (lesbian?) lovechild of Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz... on that note, I, uh... gotta go.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

1 comment:

  1. I saw this movie a few months ago too, and I liked it a lot as well. Agreedx100 that Paz Vega is underrated. Personally, I loved her in Spanglish, which is, go figure, an underrated film.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.