In Los Angeles, Annie and Darren are a married couple in a comfortable relationship that's lost its spark. They talk constantly, express affection verbally, start the day with high-end coffee, end the afternoon with gelato, shop at the farmer's market, prepare dinner as a team, do crossword puzzles, and talk in bed. Darren wonders if a one-night stand would help bring more sex to their marriage. Soon, the two of them are laying out the ground rules and talking through the mechanics of each finding a lover for one night. They agree to give each other no details about the experience. The night comes. Will this give their relationship a needed boost? Written by
Dax Shepard joined the cast a mere 18 hours before filming commenced (from the DVD commentary). See more »
So yeah, let's talk about it. The fact that Will's not here, and I know you guys liked Will. And I love him, still, but it was a long time coming, and it's over, and this time it's for real. Last night I finally did it. I finally was honest, and I'm sad, and it was hard, and it's been a hard time. But now it's done. And now I get to go and be myself. I'm excited to be me, I'm exited to be me without Will. I'm excited to live alone. I'm excited to have my own food in the ...
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Sometimes, or is it all the time, it seems like the people in charge of selling a movie are working directly in opposition to the original intents and artistic dreams of the actual creative people who make movies. I know that it's the job of distributors to get people to watch a movie they're putting out, I guess by any means necessary. But if they create an ad campaign, a movie poster, or DVD box art which is deliberately misleading as to the actual content of the movie, isn't that just going to either tick or turn people off? Seriously, if you create a sexy, silly cover for an ambitious, serious film, either you're going to a.)disappoint the people attracted to such a cover when they don't get what they were looking for or b.)keep people who would actually like such a film from ever renting it, or c.) both. For example, this film. I didn't watch it, and had no real interest in watching it, essentially based on the cover art and title. (I mean, sure, I was not exactly jazzed to check out the newest Dax Shepard vehicle either, but more on that later...) The title, the tagline, and the cutesy cover with stars Shepard and Katie Aselton all wrapped up in a blanket and giving us a comically-cute 'oops!' look makes it look like a lowbrow, cheesy romantic comedy, and the premise (unhappy couple decides to give each other the titular 'freebie' one-night stand with someone else apiece) is the stuff of lousy guy comedies (see last year's Hall Pass, etc.) But, since I had an undeniably-too-cool-not-to-tell reason to actually watch the thing (I got to interview star/director/writer Aselton) and I have to say The Freebie is really, really good. In addition to starring in this (and the very funny series 'The League'), Aselton is married to indie filmmaker (and co-father of the so-called 'mumblecore' movement) Mark Duplass, and in this, her directorial debut, she shows a real affinity for that genre's improvisational, conversational and emotionally-raw style, and creates a smart, legitimately moving examination of one couple's misguided attempt to sort out their relationship. Shepard and Aselton play Darren and Annie, a genuinely-happy, compulsively-honest couple who admit, one night, that their sex life has become routine. And so the 'one-night stand' plan. What's truly impressive is how organically the premise gets introduced; the two actors so ably create a very specifically-believable couple that you go along with their reasoning, even though you are pretty sure they're making a terrible mistake. That's a credit to the two actors, in more ways than one. I noticed that there are no writing credits listed for The Freebie on IMDb, and none in the movie itself, and Aselton confirmed to me on the phone (that's the last time I name drop, I promise), that, while she wrote her film's outline, the entire thing was improvised. And, while Aselton's background in the mumblecore genre, and the improv-heavy 'The League' reveals that she's got the chops for such an undertaking (and she is heartbreaking, winning, and lovely), the real revelation is Shepard. You might recognize him from comedies of such variable quality as Let's Go to Prison, Idiocracy, Without a Paddle, and Baby Mama, but absolutely nothing in his previous work suggested he could pull something like this off. As the two go through their painful journey into sexual adventurousness and, maybe, back again, the two actors make us care, and empathize, every step of the way, with Aselton's sure hand behind the camera providing sensitive, sure guidance. I popped this DVD in, honestly, out of a sense of obligation and, largely thanks to how it was marketed, absolutely no expectations whatsoever. I finished it with a continued respect for Aselton, a newfound one for Shepard, and a reaffirmed belief that movie marketing is headed up, by and large, by a team of trained chimps with cocaine habits. Ignore the cover, watch the movie.
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