Review: ‘Free Samples,’ with a sour taste

Today at the ice cream truck, a free sample of chocolate soft serve comes at a price: You have to deal with Jillian (Jess Weixler).

Hungover, bitter and thoroughly uninvested in the success of the company’s promotional giveaway that gives “Free Samples” its title, Jillian is a law school dropout guilted into subbing in for her best friend, Nancy (Halley Feiffer), who is stuck at an intervention for her alcoholic brother. (Never mind that Jillian can probably drink him under the table.) As Jillian prays for escape, not that she has anything better to do, customers come hungry and leave angry. If they have a weakness, she’ll exploit it — she even bribes a homeless woman to bring her a coffee.

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“Free Samples” is a film about wasting time, and it feels like it. Despite clocking in at 79 minutes, Jay Gammill’s comedy drags by no fault of its delightfully sour lead. With her droll delivery and big blue eyes, Weixler — who came to indie fame playing a virgin with a befanged vagina in “Teeth” — has the air of a slacker Bette Davis. Naturally, the only person on this sunbaked block she treats kindly is a classic movie star played by Tippi Hedren.

Other visitors include Jason Ritter as a pantless perv and neurotic teddy bear Jesse Eisenberg as a grad student who wants to take Jillian out for dinner even though she insists on calling him, improbably, Tex. What will melt first: Jillian’s heart or her truck full of soft serve? Debatable. But unlike the ice cream, Jillian’s trust is expensive.


“Free Samples.” No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 19 minutes. Playing at Laemmle’s NoHo 7, North Hollywood.