Title: Price Check
Director: Michael Walker
Price Check wants to be funny and present a moral point. The 91 minutes flirts with both of its respective goals, but it can never fully cultivate them to really capture one’s entrancing attention.
Pete (Eric Mabius) was once in the music business but after starting a family with his wife (Annie Parisse) and popping out a kid, all while the music industry vanished, he had to put aside his passion and enter the dreaded corporate American lifestyle.
Just making ends meet as a fledgling middle-class family, his marketing job gets turned upside-down when his company places a new regional manager at the helm in Susan (Parker Posey). And the girl is quite a handful.
Coming over from Los Angeles to suburban Long Island, let’s just say Susan is having a quasi-culture shock. And since she clearly has some mental issues stemming from an ex-boyfriend and just being insecure about her current standing in life, she decides to latch onto Pete and makes him her go-to employee and “friend.”
At first, Pete is unsure about the unhinged woman, but begins to warm-up to her after he starts becoming excited about his job. Susan keeps him busy, and therefore, has him spending less time with his family. But his wife is actually okay with it at the moment; for his success is solving their debt issues, and she’s really just glad he’s happy again. That is, until Susan’s influence on the innocent Pete begins to raise some red flags on both the office and domestic front.
The script’s tone dances somewhere between a provocative drama such as 1994’s Disclosure and a candid comedy as seen in 1999’s Office Space. Much of the story takes place in the cubicle office setting and then transitions to the home of Pete’s family. It plays out fairly obviously in the first half, but what enables this to be mildly intriguing is the subtle doses of comedy from the supporting office co-workers and the sharp acting by both Mabius and Posey.
When a slight twist occurs, the dynamics in how you perceive the second-half of the tale – in which a portion takes place out in Los Angeles when Pete and Susan venture to the corporate office for a few days – you kind of wonder how they’ll close this out. And while you still wonder after the credits hit (a.k.a. poorly articulated third act), the one thing that you’ll definitely get, and therefore miss, is the comedy is taken away; which is fine, if the drama angle was delivered in a more gripping manner instead of just skipping through to an ending that reaps no gratifying rewards for sticking with this.
Overall, Price Check had a thought or two, yet didn’t take the time to think of the best way to work them out. The acting was surprisingly solid and although the comedy is scant, it has its moments. This probably could have benefited from a better edit and focused direction for the story.