Release date: November 16, 2012
Written and Directed by: Michael Walker
Cast: Parker Posey, Eric Mabius, Annie Parisse, Josh Pais, Cheyenne Jackson, Edward Herrmann
Running Time: 92 minutes
Similar to having to endure a forced visit to a family gathering, littered with a clutch of unpleasant relatives, it’s always a relief when crazy Cousin Wackjob shows up. No matter how awkward the occasion, she’ll always make it worse. Which, in turn, cranks the entertainment factor up to high. Thank God for crazy Cousin Wackjob.
Representing that loony but entertaining component is Parker Posey, making the dull and disjointed Price Check just a bit more survivable. Oh, do we need her here.
In this supposedly amusing tale of supermarkets and super-marketing, blandly earnest protagonist Pete (Eric Mabius) works in the pricing department of a failing chain of retail grocery stores. When his immediate supervisor moves on, he’s suddenly faced with a she-devil of a boss: Parker Posey’s Susan Felders, who is unconventional, unbridled and, in all probability, unhinged. She zeroes in on Pete, grooming him to become her #2, doubling his salary while quadrupling his workload. Initially, Pete’s wife Sara (Annie Parisse) is thrilled … but when Pete is required to accompany Susan on weekend business trips, coming home with his clothes reeking from Susan’s perfume, Sara suspects the worst.
We’ve seen a much funnier and smarter version of this story in 2011′s Horrible Bosses. But where the previous film examined a Peter Pan camaraderie of three best pals, all trying to survive their individual onerous workplaces, here we just get Pete, accompanied by a few meager bits of spark from a woebegone workforce akin to that of TV’s The Office.
The plot is tomato-skin thin, alluding to lost aspirations and grown-up sacrifices. It seems that Pete had to give up his dream career in the music business due to his taking on familial responsibilities, stepping up to provide for his wife and young son … and perhaps a new baby on the way. When Pete has a moral misstep, he experiences no discernable accountability; rather, his disappointed wife appears to forgive him faster than the time it takes to toast a Pop-Tart.
Other than Susan’s mania, the most creative component of Price Check comes from the costume department. Far from a button-down boss, Susan dresses in after-five cocktail wear and dripping earrings on a daily basis. When she inappropriately insists on attending Pete’s son’s Halloween party at his grammar school, she dons a skimpy suede Pocahontas get-up, replete with thigh-high fishnets. If only Pete exhibited a scintilla of the personality apparent in any one of Susan’s outré outfits.
Betting dollars to donuts, next week’s most humdrum trip to the market will offer more riveting entertainment. At least when we sally forth from a Safeway, we’ve got a few bags full of groceries to show for our efforts. No such luck with Price Check, a waste of time from start to finish … with an ending that’s as limp as old lettuce.
Rating on a scale of 5 unbearably long lines at the market: 2