It seems that Long Island is tagged as ‘Nowheresville’ in a film opening this week, and that was apparently way before the lights went out with Hurricane Sandy’s destructive arrival across the once bustling NYC burb. And upon the occasion of Parker Posey’s nasty dragon lady, kicking up a storm in her own right as a ruthless supermarket efficiency expert, in the cutthroat workplace satire, Price Check.
The latest glum when not hyper-giddy entry into the stream of movies tackling the financial fallout of the Great Recession in one way or another, Price Check is set in the regional office of a chain of supermarkets in economic decline. Turning up from LA to hopefully turn the statistical indicators around and coerce lemonade out of lemons, is take no prisoners, take charge manager, Susan Felders (Parker Posey).
Over-caffeinated and diabolically kooky, Felders immediately sets about cleaning house with a vengeance. And callously cutting corners by pink slipping based on the highest paid employees because they’ve been working there the longest. At the same time, the scheming she-devil supervisor doubles the salary of gullible family man Pete Cozy (Eric Mabius)and more through the roof, as a ploy to both pressure him into working four times as hard, and seduce him eventually.
And though Cozy and especially his fretting wife Sarah (Annie Parisse) grab at this Faustian bargain in order to meet looming mortgage payments, initial optimism turns sour when Sarah begins to suspect the tacky tyrant’s predatory designs on her spouse. Along with worker morale plunging at the office, with one disenchanted drudge afflicted with an existential crisis remarking ‘being human sucks.’ Even as Felders heads back to the LA central command center to block Cozy from getting a promotion she’s contemplating for herself. And ridiculing for the amusement of her colleagues there, the working stiff demographic back in Long Island where ‘it’s like the Valley, but people are pale and yucky.’ Ouch.
Written and directed by Michael Walker, Price Check faces a not always smooth challenge of balancing its unsteady tone between comedic and cruel. Though Parker Posey nicely negotiates that fine line with her toxic perky personality as Felders. Even if there’s far too much buffoonish bashing of powerful women in movies going on lately.
2 1/2 stars