I'll admit I never saw the original cut of this 1999 cult indy classic. All I've seen is this recut version, and I am pleased to bits over it. Not knowing what to expect, I popped the movie into the DVD player. I was immediately inundated with sci-fi and pop culture references to make Kevin Smith wet the bed. Anyone born in the 70's will understand. Yet, this is not cheesily done (see: Fanboys
), this is lovingly done. From re-enactments of Logan's Run ("Run, runner!") to geekouts over Wrath Of Khan laserdiscs, and incorporating Terminator quotes into every day life, if you're a sci-fi geek, you will never find a more wretched hive...sorry, got carried away there. Throw in Swingers influences for the late 20's crowd in the late 90's and you have a pretty entertaining film.
Eric McCormack is a struggling writer (his latest screenplay, Brady Killer, is pretty much junk) and Rafer Weigel (who?) is a film editor for a tiny studio, making movies like Beach Babe Bingo Fiesta. Their lives consist of trying to score, geeking out over Star Trek ("only original, only classic"), and in Rafer's case, paying the bills without hawking his Trek goods. Their lives take a turn for the interesting when they are browsing books and run into...William Shatner (browsing porn), as played by William Shatner.
This is, in my own humble geek-opinion, Shatner's best movie. At times he plays himself understatedly dark, other times with panache, and outrageously at others. Most of all, Shatner's Shatner is whacko. A lonely whacko, but also out-of-his-tree whacko, as if every story you ever heard about him was true. He is working on his own film project, a little epic. William Shatner and Williams Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. A musical version. 6 hours long. 3 intermissions. With Shatner playing all the parts. Except Calpurnia. He was thinking about getting Sharon Stone for that part.
Shatner, as great as he is, is only the background for this lovingly made film. He appears in childhood dream sequences, and he pops up unexpectedly when the characters need to confess their problems to what essentially amounts to a friendly, lonely stranger. Our main characters are going through their own late-20's problems, mostly with women, and just as funny and outrageous as anything from Clerks (I or II). The performances are adequate, certainly not Oscar-worthy, but damned if McCormack doesn't do the best Shatner monologue that I've ever seen.
This is not a complex story, but it is a warm one and is infinitely re-watchable. I pull it off the shelves every few months to enjoy and geek out. I can't say the same thing about Fanboys.
DVD bonus features are pure awesomeness at warp 9. My favourite was a pilot for a series that was never picked up, but damn, it should have been. The makers of Free Enterprise came up with a pilot where they just discuss science fiction news and films over drinks in a bar with special guests. Chase Masterson (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) appears in this pilot. It's kind of like that show that Jon Favreau had where he just hangs out at dinner with his friends. Shoulda woulda coulda been a series. I would have watched it, and so would you.
Pickup Free Enterprise if you:
a) are a Shatner fan
b) love Kevin Smith films
c) think Han shot first.
5 stars. An indispensible part of my movie library.