(director/writer: Brad Silberling; cinematographer: Phedon Papamichael; editor: Michael Kahn; music: Antonio Pinto; cast: Morgan Freeman (Him), Paz Vega (Scarlet), Jonah Hill (the Kid), Alexandra Berardi (Mop Lady), Bobby Cannavale (Bobby), Anne Dudek (Other Checker); Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Julie Lynn/Lori McCreary/Brad Silberling; ThinkFilm; 2006)

“Will go down as tasty as a fast-food guacamole.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

It’s hard to completely dislike writer-director Brad Silberling’s (“City of Angels”/”Moonlight Mile”) likable comedy-drama no matter how slight it is. It tells of a nameless aging Hollywood icon (Morgan Freeman, playing a reasonable facsimile of himself), the star of the once megahit Double Down (which can be bought presently at a discount price, probably in the same bins of a big department store where this film is destined for) has watched as his career has stalled and is now contemplating a comeback after a four-year interval in a small indie movie by a young unknown director. He’s driven out by van to an almost empty Latino supermarket (Archie’s Ranch Market) in the dumpy town of Carson, in the outskirts of industrial Los Angeles, and left to wander the store to do research for his store manager’s part. There the affable African-American actor befriends the outspoken, spirited, sharpie Hispanic store checker, on the 10 items or less counter, Scarlet (Paz Vega), and when his unreliable driver never returns it brings about a beautiful relationship between the two contrasting parties (he needs a ride home and she needs career advice) who have a wonderful chemistry together just like Morgan has with Clint and Ashley.

The good-natured flick has a scene where Morgan and Scarlet enter a Target store, where she’s buying a blouse for an afternoon interview for an office secretary job. The actor is so stunned at what he sees that he says: “It’s amazing.” Scarlet counters with: “It’s Target.”The actor is amazed T-shirts go for $8 when his designer ones cost $100, and that prices are so low that he can’t resist buying tube socks and is overtaken by a mop promotion.

The buddy film could be insulting if you expect to find any relevant political or social commentary and it also gets a bit too silly when the actor mentor joins a group of Hispanic immigrant workers at a car-wash where he picks up rags to dry cars, which leads to a lively musical scene. But if you’re just looking for a quickie “cinematic blowjob,” this one will go down as tasty as a fast-food guacamole.

REVIEWED ON 12/8/2006 GRADE: C+      https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/