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Tribeca 2012: Free Samples

The 2012 Tribeca Film Festival runs from April 18th to April 29th. Jeff Hart and Jeremiah White are there and will be seeing a shitload of movies.

In Free Samples, shiftless curmudgeon and law school dropout Jillian (played by Jess Weixler, probably grumpy because of the vagina dentata) spends the day filling in for a friend inside an ice cream truck. Sandwiched between cigarette breaks and naps, Jillian encounters a parade of ice cream loving LA oddballs, as well as some love interests past and present.

It’s sort of amazing to me that a movie with a female lead as strong as Weixler could come so close to failing The Bechdel Test. Jillian dropped out of law school for reasons she doesn’t even seem sure of herself. She wants to pursue a career in the arts, but has no discernible talent. She drinks too much, to the point of blacking out. All that is interesting! Except when all those issues are framed and/or resolved via her relationships with men.

Jillian obsesses about her ex-boyfriend to the point where he conveniently manifests. She has a festering case of daddy issues. She’s being pursued by Tex (Jesse Eisenberg), a manic pixie dream boy that delivers a swell monologue about how, as a child, he swapped souls with a more popular, confident child. Then, he proceeds to save our lost heroine by snapping at her to “put down the beer.” What’s worse is that she listens. It turns out that all Jillian needed was a charming man to tell her what to do.

Outside of Weixler’s performance – which manages to charm despite a screenplay that would appear to feel more disdain than empathy for her character – there just isn’t much to like about Free Samples. The LA oddballs aren’t all that odd, their interactions with Weixler not all that humorous. Alfred Hitchcock muse Tippi Hedren shows up as an ancient and forgotten B-lister that refuses to give herself over to a seniors community. Her scenes with Weixler are the best Free Samples has to offer. They’re also what squeaks the film past The Bechdel Test.

VERIDCT:  Skip it.

You know what's cooler than a million ice cream cones?

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