No one thinks of a shopaholic as a strung-out addict with a compulsive habit that has left them with a trainwreck of a life. Somehow the word brings to mind New York socialites with closets full of Manolo Blahniks and a personal shopper at Bergdorf Goodman. It seems very posh, very harmless, and maybe a little mindless. After all, we assume the shopaholic has the funds to fuel the addiction and the space to accommodate their purchases. But what if you loved shopping like a junkie loved crack, didn’t have the money to pay for anything, and instead of the Upper East Side, you live in Fargo, North Dakota? Such is the case for the two young men in Pinching Penny.
Alex (Steven Molony) and his pal Murphy (Timothy J. Meyer) are transplants from the UK who’ve never quite fit into the suburban trappings of Fargo. Above all, Alex loves shopping. It doesn’t really matter what he’s shopping for, but the act of acquiring material belongings is pretty much the center of his universe. Lacking any sort of financial leverage, Alex and Murphy turn to theft. If you were to assume that they shoplifted the items they wanted or were in any way graceful in their efforts, you would be wrong.
Alex and Murphy break into other people’s houses, take whatever they believe they can turn for a buck, and go shopping with the cash. They are not any good at this. One burglary results in a spectacularly broken nose for Alex, and another results in a run-in with Teddi (Ginny Glaser), a girl who is more trouble than Alex and Murphy put together. She offers the handy advice that kidnapping and collecting ransom is far more profitable than petty theft, so, naturally, the boys give that a whirl and wind up pinching (as in stealing) a girl named Penny (Lauren J. Wertz).
Much like the burglaries, the kidnapping goes awry in just about every way possible. Driven by their addiction, Alex and Murphy seem utterly incapable of putting on the brakes. As their troubles escalate, their sense of proportion diminishes, leaving them with no ability to see that they are literally ruining their lives with each disastrous decision. With its frenetic energy, fast pace, and gallows humor, Pinching Penny is as refreshingly entertaining and funny as it is insightful. Beneath the bang-up action and dark comedy is social commentary that suggests our addiction to materialism is as damaging and dangerous as a jones for drugs or drink.
Extra features include a free digital copy, a four-part behind-the-scenes featurette, deleted and extended scenes, a blooper reel, three feature-length audio commentaries, the original trailer, and a photo gallery.