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Cashback (R)

Release Date: July 20th, 2007 (Quad Cinema) by Magnolia Pictures.

The Cast: Sean Biggerstaff, Emilia Fox, Shaun Evans, Michelle Ryan, Stuart Goodwin, Michael Dixon, Michael Lambourne, Marc Pickering, Nick Hancock, Frank Hesketh

Directed by Sean Ellis.

BASIC PREMISE: When his girlfriend, Suzy (Ryan), dumps him, Ben (Biggerstaff) becomes an insomniac who has the ability to freeze time.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Originally an 18-minute film, Cashback has an intriguing premise that simply does not go far enough in terms of imagination. The main problem lies with the protagonist, Ben, a young man who suffers from insomnia after his girlfriend dumps him in the opening scene. He gets a job as a nightshift clerk at a supermarket and, somehow, develops the ability to freeze time. What he does with this ability seems stereotypical and immature, such as a lengthy scene when he strips some of the beautiful women in the aisles. If he’s not using his magical power, he’s flirting with a coworker, Sharon (Fox) and wants to go out on a serious date with her. Unfortunately, writer/director Sean Ellis never fully humanizes the character of Ben, so it’s not easy to root for this underdog. The screenplay goes off on tangents quite often involving cheap laughs with Ben’s annoying coworkers—these scenes feel like they belong in a stupid teen comedy such as Employee of the Month. Too bad the dialogue couldn’t have been as consistently witty and the characters as oddly likable and memorable as in Clerks. At least the contrived, pretentious plot doesn’t become as painfully juvenile as in Click, but it would have been refreshing and more engaging to either include a more imaginative plot, expand the characters to make them more complex and grounded in reality, or, better yet, both.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: None, other than the clichéd message that true beauty can be fleeting—if you don’t stop to look around a bit, you might miss it.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Underdeveloped characters and a somewhat contrived, pretentious and unimaginative plot.


IN A NUTSHELL: An intriguing premise, but with underdeveloped characters and a somewhat contrived, pretentious and unimaginative plot.


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