Having portrayed a burned-out cop, a lethal pimp and the president of the United States, among a variety of other characters, Morgan Freeman takes on one of his more curious roles -- a jovial actor.
In the slice-of-life comedy "10 Items or Less" (not to be confused with the TBS sitcom of the same title), Freeman's unnamed but apparently well-known movie star is contemplating ending a four-year screen absence by playing a grocery store manager in an independent film. While researching the part in a Carson market, he finds himself stranded without a cellphone or transportation. A capable and beautiful but prickly and guarded clerk (Paz Vega) agrees to take him home after she completes her errands, and the actor's one-hour field trip becomes a full-day immersion into another person's life.
It's a simple setup, and writer-director Brad Silberling ("City of Angels") doesn't try to do too much with it. He gives his actors room to breathe with leisurely paced scenes and relaxed editing. That's a good idea when you've got a cast of this caliber. (For an indie, "10 Items" flexes some star power with amusing cameos, including one by the ubiquitous Bobby Cannavale.)
Freeman, who also executive produced, seems to be having a good time. The movie certainly enjoys riffing on his real-life career -- there are references to his character working with Ashley Judd and Clint Eastwood and to his narrating skills. In "10 Items," the fictional actor is in a constant state of discovery, a gregarious person coming out of hibernation and rediscovering the world.