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DID YOU READ

Taking a monogamy time out in “The Freebie.”

Taking a monogamy time out in “The Freebie.” (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

It’s impossible not to measure “The Freebie,” actress Katie Aselton‘s directorial debut, against last year’s Sundance success “Humpday.” The two films share a marriage — Aselton, who also stars as Annie, is the wife of filmmaker and “Humpday” lead Mark Duplass, who serves as executive producer. They also share a cast member, an editor, a cinematographer, an improvised, rough-around-the-edges feel, and a goofy-sexy hook with underlying seriousness.

It’s that seriousness that trips up “The Freebie.” “Humpday” used its premise — a pair of thirty-something straight men make a booze-fueled pact to film a porno/performance art video of the two of them having sex — to get at certain more complicated truths, or Matt Zoller Seitz put it, “The film’s true subject is ‘normalcy’: what it means, whether there even is such a thing, and most of all, the terror of being thought too normal — too ordinary, too typical.” “The Freebie,” on the other hand, is about exactly what it sets out to be, which is the dry spell a thirtysomething couple (Aselton and Dax Shepard, who plays Darren, and who acquits himself well in the dramatic role) tries to get out of by giving each other the go-ahead for one extramarital hookup.

The sunny, laid-back L.A. lives being lived by the film’s indisputably adult characters seem to have kept them in a kind of stasis, where they’re only now dealing with things you’d think should have surfaced years ago. When Annie and Darren talk about how they can totally do this because they’re honest and love and trust each other so much, it sounds genuine and familiar, but also like the kind of naively nonconformist thing a pair of college students would say before ending up seriously hurting each other’s feelings. This goes beyond Annie and Darren’s experiment — at a dinner party, one of their friends notices another’s wife isn’t drinking and that she never turns down a glass of wine. “Should we tell them?” her husband asks. What could it be, everyone else at the table demands, apparently genuinely mystified. Yes, what reason would a grown woman in a long-term relationship have for taking, say, a nine-month break from alcohol? And this party is for someone’s 36th birthday.

I’m just a little weary of the conservative core that lurks beneath the scruffy surface of a lot of recent R-rated comedies and indie dramedies — behind the requisite unrelenting candor, dick jokes and druggy grandparents, plenty of them come down to espousing the same old values of family, community, fidelity. There’s nothing new on that front in “The Freebie,” in which the couple in question do not, of course, find the answer to their problems is a one-night dip into open marriage. I was rooting for that. Hell, I was rooting for them to decide that no longer wanting to sleep with each other was just fine, that they didn’t need it. Now that, strange as it may be, would be edgy.

“The Freebie” does not yet have U.S. distribution.

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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