The Tribeca Film Festival film Free Samples starring Jess Weixler, Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Ritter sounded so promising. Right up my Girls-loving alley. Jillian (Jess Weixler) drops out of law school, gets forced to spend one day handing out samples in an ice cream truck and learns valuable lessons along the way.
I expected to leave the film renewed and re-energized, ready to face all my personal quarter-life crises problems with a new outlook on life. Instead I left grateful that I didn’t have to spend any more time with Jillian. Even though the movie only lasted 80 minutes, I truly felt like I spent the entire day in the ice cream truck with her — and to add insult to injury, I didn’t even get any ice cream.
Here’s the thing about movies about quarter life crises. Everyone’s allowed to have one, not everyone is allowed to share one. Suffering doesn’t make you interesting. Being depressed doesn’t make you watchable. Audiences want to see someone confront their problems and change. Ideally with some kind of musical montage mixed in.
But Jess sits in that ice cream truck all day, complaining about her life and her hangover. It’s like going to brunch with your self-involved friend who complains about her mean boss for six hours — only stopping to yell at the waitress for bringing her a regular omlette when she specifically requested egg whites.
Throughout her day in the truck, various people approach her. With each one new person, I thought, “okay, this is the person who will cause her to have an epiphany.” But she never did. Instead she takes out her frustrations on her customers. While this shows me how frustrated she is with her life, it doesn’t make me sympathetic. It makes me angry.
Toward the end all I heard was “wah, wah, wah.” Except for the last five minutes when she makes a minor decision that I guess suggests she’s going to make changes in her life — but doesn’t really make it clear.
Like I said, totally cool to have a quarter life crisis. Just don’t make me watch it if you have nothing new to say.