Political satire is nothing new in the entertainment industry. Saturday Night Live has been doing it for decades and films like Wag the Dog, Bulworth and this year’s Irresistible have found ways to poke fun of American bureaucracy–some more successful than others.
No politician is off limits when it comes to mockery. New York City House representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been lampooned before. Most recently, a fictional version of her was portrayed on the Netflix series Space Force earlier this year. Now, indie writer/director Lenny Britton is taking his own jab at AOC in his upcoming film Free Lunch Express by joking about her time working as a bartender prior to being elected to the House.
Granted, SNL did the same thing during an episode in 2018 when they referenced AOC’s past occupation slinging drinks, but Free Lunch Express, overall, feels a lot more like a mean-spirited cheap shot. Maybe that’s because Britton, who ran and lost as a Republican for a Senate seat in Vermont in 2010, includes the AOC spoof in a film that denigrates current Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. For example, in the film there is a scene where the Sanders character swears a blood oath to Soviet communist Joseph Stalin.
None of the Sanders and socialism jokes, which make up most of the film, are particularly funny or creative. They’re obvious swipes one would find on the conservative social media platform Parler or in the most conspiratorial corners of 4Chan. Plus, Britton’s script is void of any real in-depth analysis of Sanders or his beliefs as a Democratic Socialist, which is unfortunate since the 80-minute feature film has much more time to do that in comparison to SNL skits that only mean to make Donald Trump look as stupid as possible in 5-minute increments.
In Free Lunch Express, AOC (played by actress Laura Aleman) has one scene at the end of the film when she meets Sanders for the first time in his office. He immediately asks her about her past bartending gig and what the best way is to make a Manhattan.
“I can’t believe you just asked me that,” Aleman’s AOC says seemingly offended at the question before her annoyance turns into excitement. “That is totally a lit question!”
Then, the two spend the next minute talking about what kind of bourbon or whiskey makes a “proper Manhattan.” The scene ends with Bernie showing AOC a video of a cute kitten online and her cooing at it. During the end credits, AOC is seen one more time traveling with Sanders on his bus where she is busy making him a drink. We’ll let viewers decide on their own what level of cringe-worthiness all of it is.
Free Lunch Express hits VOD platforms Dec. 4.