Tribeca 2012 Review: FREE SAMPLES
I will throw myself onto the altar as a sacrificial lamb so that fellow critics much better than I do not fall prey to using the following super cheesy & painfully obvious opening statement in their future reviews of this film. Remember me as a hero…
Much like the parked ice cream truck Jess Weixler finds herself stuck in for the majority of the running time, FREE SAMPLES goes nowhere. Yes, I know that’s bad. It’s the sort of line your friendly neighborhood entertainment guru will say in his segment on the local news in attempt to be clever. Unfortunately it does perfectly apply to the film. Hungover and unsure of pretty much everything in her life, Jillian (Jess Weixler) finds herself working all day parked in a vacant lot handing out free samples of an ice cream-like substance to a cast of quirky characters. There are a few subplots including a distant “kind of” fiance, a quick-witted guy she met the night before (Jessie Eisenberg), and a friendship with an elderly patron (Tippi Hedren).
In the end, there is some very minor character growth but it is in no way a substantial arc. This would be fine if the journey was entertaining but even at 80 minutes, the film seems to drag its feet far too often. This is not the fault of the actors; everyone seems to do well with what little material they have to work with. Jess Weixler channels her inner Winona Ryder as the smart yet irritatingly bitchy Jillian and Jason Ritter seems to have fun as Wally. Jessie Eisenberg is on his game as a much more confidant version of the character we have seen him play many times before. Sadly many of the hilariously quirky characters that show up for free ice cream fail to be hilarious or even relevant to the story in any way. The jokes falling flat could be due to poor delivery but it is more likely due to the script that could have used a bit more love before cameras started rolling. There are a few really good moments, namely the ones with Jason Ritter and Jessie Eisenberg, but they do not appear nearly often enough to save this slow mess.