Sundance Journal: ‘Price Check’

Many of the movies in the Premieres section at this year’s Sundance festival were quite mediocre, and some like ‘Lay the Favorite‘ were just plain terrible. ‘Price Check’ falls into the mediocre category.

I like Parker Posey as much as the next person. Here she’s called upon to be Susan Felders, the world’s worst, most neurotic boss. She’s vindictive, spiteful and always hiding some kind of secret agenda. She’s been called in by a national grocery store conglomerate to come in and make some changes in the marketing department. She wants to initiate new strategies and get the company back on its feet, mostly for her own personal gain.

Stuck in middle-class monotony is Pete Cozy (Eric Mabius). Pete works at the same grocery conglomerate, and is now faced with working under the dreaded Susan Felders. The team of marketers are already set in their ways and don’t want to change. Like much of corporate America, time is wasted. Employees do just enough not to get fired, nothing more.

It’s painfully obvious that director and writer Michael Walker is trying to make a comment on the way middle-class families survive. This is made abundantly clear whenever we hear exactly how much the Cozy family owes on their mortgage or credit cards. The problem here is that there’s really no discernible suffering for the family. There’s no outward appearance of having money troubles or being strapped for cash. The script has the characters talk the talk, but not walk the walk.

What’s even more annoying is that the film devolves from a would-be commentary on middle-class life to an office affair movie that seems like it has no place being there at all. It’s almost like Walker abandoned his middle-class dissertation and instead wanted to go for the tired old storyline of a guy cheating on his wife with his boss.

To make matters worse, once the movie has decided that it’s time to end things, it just does. There are no consequences for Pete’s actions. There are no fires that need squelching or problems that need to be resolved. Every problem that arose during the first 80 minutes of the movie goes away with a simple fade-to-black. When we come back, everything is fine. Pete has found a new high-paying job and nothing has happened with his wife. It’s a silly, nonsensical way to end things. I wouldn’t even dream of telling you all this, but it’s something you have to know. Watching ‘Price Check’ is a waste of your time.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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