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Coming Soon to a Supermarket Near You

Certain to drive strict grammarians to distraction, the new movie 10 Items or Less (yes, in a perfect world it would be "or Fewer") is a no-budget indie about making a no-budget indie. A charmer with an insinuating central performance by Morgan Freeman that’s so natural, you feel as if you've spent an afternoon chatting with him, the film marks a change of pace for nearly everyone involved.

For Freeman, who plays a big-name actor slumming in an independent film, it's very stylish slumming. For Paz Vega, who plays a grocery checkout clerk who gives him pointers on playing a grocery clerk, it's a whole new language (her performance in Spanglish she managed mostly phonetically, while this time she was actually learning English on the set).

For director Brad Silberling, it's a vacation from such special-effects extravaganzas as Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and Casper the Friendly Ghost.

And for the movie company -- ThinkFilm -- it's a wildly foreshortened way of releasing a picture. Where most films delay their home-market release for six months or so, 10 Items or Less will have just a two-week window between its theatrical opening today in major U.S. cities (including New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Detroit, Forth Worth, Houston, San Francisco, Seattle and St. Louis) and its online availability (through downloads on ClickStar www.cstar.com ) on Dec. 15. Stay for the credits, by the way. The outtakes are as much fun as anything in the movie.

Bob Mondello regularly reviews films forAll Things Consideredand for "Five for Friday."

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