‘Price Check’ Review: This Is One Empty Shopping Cart

Only legendary indie actress Parker Posey shines in this otherwise tepid comedy set in the corporate world of supermarkets

If your local supermarket makes really great donuts, it’s quite possible that you’ll continue to shop there even if the prices are excessive, the selection spotty and the muzak unbearable.

In the grocery store that is “Price Check,” Parker Posey is the awesome donut.

Posey plays Susan, a West Coast firebrand who takes over the pricing and marketing office of a Long Island chain of groceries owned by a huge corporation.

She’s passionate, mouthy, doesn’t suffer fools and is determined to turn this sleepy office into a hard-working team that’s going to lift the company out of the doldrums. The movie, unfortunately, isn’t about her, but that doesn’t stop Posey from walking off with every bit of it that isn’t nailed down.

Our nominal protagonist is actually Pete (Eric Mabius), who becomes an early ally of Susan’s, particularly after she gives him a much-needed raise and promotion. Pete’s wife Sara (Annie Parisse), a stay-at-home mom, is thrilled about their new spending power, to the point where she remains quiet when it becomes obvious that Pete and Susan are having an affair.

Pete harbors dreams of returning to work in the music industry — which Susan pointedly reminds him is pretty much dead — and pretends that he’s just doing this corporate gig temporarily. But as Susan’s new plans kick in, and reality crowds around him, Pete is forced to confront some uncomfortable truths about his life.

Describing what happens in “Price Check” makes it sound more coherent than it actually is; writer-director Michael Walker (“Chasing Sleep”) casts his lines out in several directions, but few get any nibbles. At various points, it seems like the film is going to be a workplace comedy, or a bitter satire about how your stopgap job suddenly becomes your career, or a trenchant examination of how economic inequities can effect a marriage, but it never feels like Walker seems all that interested in pursuing any of these ideas once he’s raised them.

It thus falls upon the talented Posey to make the most of the situation, and there’s truly no movie at all without her.

From her early appearances in seminal indies like “Dazed and Confused” and “Party Girl” to her recent acclaimed stint on “Louie,” Posey has become a modern master at characters who use withering sarcasm as a defense mechanism for damages on the inside, and Susan joins a rich gallery of her uniquely brilliant performances.

No one can give a throwaway line like, “Come on! This is supposed to be fun!” quite the spin that Posey can.

When “Price Check” eventually turns up in your TiVo, you can fast-forward through all the moments when she’s not on screen. As for the rest of the film, well, actual grocery shopping will probably provide more entertainment.