Annie and Darren are a married thirtysomething Los Angelino couple coddled in childless comfort (Katie Aselton, in her directorial debut, stars herself opposite Dax Shepard). In a serial series of pillow-talk dialogues, they discuss their snuggle-cozy and sexless life together—consisting of chaste goofing, brunching, and opting out of sex to race each other at crossword puzzles. Through the particular couple’s logic of mutual accommodation, congratulating themselves on their open-mindedness, they hatch an idea: a one-night-only opportunity to get laid outside of the marriage. The Freebie‘s timeline is diced up, arranged around that big night, with the “Did they, didn’t they?” consummation a structuring absence. None of the dialogue, presumably arrived at through improvisation, is either funny or memorable, save “You have a really big boob,” from really big boob Shepard. A climactic dinner-table scene with abject Annie and Darren confronted with the image of their placidly settled friends makes clear that this is a hand-wringing morality tale, with those flying too close to the sun duly singed. Though if the only alternative to swinging is this yuppie living death, maybe the next consideration should be a suicide pact.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 15, 2010