Sometimes it’s better to quit while you’re ahead. If you’re Sean Ellis, director of Cashback, then you could’ve done with doing just that.
Cashback started out as an award-winning short film, and everybody loved it. The feature-length version is a different story. It centres on Ben, an art student who becomes an insomniac after his girlfriend leaves him. So he takes a job working nights in Sainsburys. As you do.
He soon finds that working nights in your local supermarket is no fun. However, he has a unique way to wile away the hours – he can imagine time standing completely still. Soon he gets involved with a girl at work, and it seems that his life is back on track in true “movie” fashion.
But it’s so much worse than that. The characters are almost entirely one-dimensional, and when they aren’t, in lead man Ben’s case, they talk utter nonsense. Ben provides a narration throughout the film that’s packed with rotten metaphors and pseudo-poetry that a child would be embarrassed by.
The narration bottles the central problem with Cashback – it takes itself far too seriously. There’s a lot of full-frontal female nudity, facilitated by Ben during his time-stopping antics. He’s an art student, remember, so you get hit with the hilarious justification of “it’s for art, honest guv”. No-one uses that one any more, not even as a joke.
Just when it seems like things can’t get any worse, the truly ridiculous ending flies into view. Cashback doesn’t so much jump the shark as cartwheel over him on a magic carpet. Not only does everything turn from poo to gold for Ben in about five minutes flat, but its also revealed that, wait for it, he can stop time in the real world too. What? WHAT?!
Cashback somehow manages the double whammy of being thin and basic, and at the same time being bloated and self-important. Quit while you’re ahead? I wouldn’t have even let Cashback get going in the first place.