I love to do window shopping, visit supermarkets, browse the countless rows of books in a bookstore, read the descriptions on DVDs or just walk in the malls. During the lockdown, I have shifted to browsing Amazon listings. I also like to watch movies and TV shows that involve shopping like Superstore (TV), Black Books (2000), Cart (2014), In the Aisles (2018) and so on.
Starring Morgan Freeman and Paz Vega, the comedy film 10 Items or Less (2006), is one such film, involving a supermarket, and I enjoyed it. Directed by Brad Silberling, it is about a veteran actor (Morgan Freeman as himself) visiting a mediocre supermarket in a rundown neighbourhood, for researching the location for a new film he is considering. There he meets a girl Scarlet (Paz Vega) working on the “10 items or less” check-out counter. Impressed by her skill and the speed of managing the store and the customers, he starts a conversation. A beautiful friendship develops between them – during the few hours they have, as a fatherly figure he helps her to make her discover her true self and get back her confidence.
The dialogues were the highlight of the film, sample these: When Scarlet complaints to Morgan, that while she is doing all the work, the clerk in the next counter gets no work as she is the darling to the manager, Morgan responds “I didn’t know that there are lane distinctions (in a supermarket)“; Scarlet adds, pointing to the 10 items or less lane she is working “This is where the checkers come to die“. In scenes, where he keeps checking the shirt collars of the people he meets, or when he is mimicking the movements of an elderly clerk (Larry) in the store, Morgan was in his usual best and it was a delight to watch.
This was a movie with a simple plot (or no real story I may say) and made with a limited budget, yet it exceeded my expectations and left me thinking about the characters long after the film ended. There are no actions, no twists or turns, yet I found it enjoyable.
Footnote: According to its Wikipedia entry, 10 Items or Less was shot in fifteen days, made its release as a digital download – the first such release via the Internet – while it was still in theaters.