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CHECKED OUT Freeman, left, admires Vega's customer service.
CHECKED OUT Freeman, left, admires Vega’s customer service.

Time Out says

Wispy to a fault, Brad Silberling’s under-the-radar comedy starts out with the promise of sly digs at its star’s—and Hollywood’s—expense. Though Morgan Freeman’s character is never identified by name, we know he’s an elderly actor with clout who’s decided to go slumming in Indie-land. Just in case we missed art imitating life, there are constant references to him being “the guy from that Ashley Judd movie” and videotapes of said 2002 potboiler, High Crimes (all marked down to an insulting $1.99), in every other scene. Freeman, however, plays along gamely: The best scene features him correcting a books-on-tape reader with a copycat baritone, rephrasing everything for maximum voice-of-gravitas effect.

Both Freeman’s parody of his own solemn screen persona and Silberling’s purposeful use of that other Los Angeles—the one full of trailer parks and low-rent mercados instead of Beverly Hills boutiques—suggest something out of the ordinary. Once the plot kicks in, however, the movie reveals itself to be just another middle-of-the-road ride from the guy who gave us City of Angels. The elderly actor starts playing fairy godfather to a working-class grocery clerk (Vega, who’ll inevitably be touted as “the next Penlope Cruz” by the time you finish reading this), and out come the mutual life lessons over Arby’s lunches and Target shopping sprees. The movie’s funky lo-fi atmosphere and easy-breezy pace scream Sundance character study, but don’t be fooled: Beneath the quirk is nothing but the same multiplex cutesiness dressed in thrift-store clothing. (Opens Fri; Click here for venues.)—David Fear

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