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No Tears for Shatner,
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This review is from: Free Enterprise: Love Long And Party (DVD)
In this hilarious indie film--very loosely based on the real-life experiences of scripters Mark Altman and Robert Burnett--STAR TREK's William Shatner is cast in the role he was born to play--William Shatner.
Mark (Eric McCormack of TV's WILL & GRACE) and Robert (Rafer Weigel) are 20-something science-fiction geeks employed at the fringes of the movie industry--Mark edits a movie-fan magazine that is an obvious take-off on FANGORIA and STARLOG; Robert is a film editor at a direct-to-video film studio called Full Eclipse, a blatant parody of the real-life studio Full Moon--who one day run into their childhood hero, William "Captain Kirk" Shatner, at a purely chance meeting in a second-hand bookstore. But their mental image of Shatner is shattered when they see that the STAR TREK icon is not like his on-screen persona but is, in reality, just another egocentric actor with numerous human foibles.
Nonetheless, Mark and Robert are still smitten enough to pursue a friendship with "Bill" and promise to use their influence in "the industry" to help him get his pet project off the ground. And that project is? Well, it seems that Shatner wants to create a musical version of Shakespeare's JULIUS CAESAR in which the actor will play all the parts himself. (When Mark and Robert point out that playing both Caesar and Brutus means that Shatner will have to stab himself in the back, the actor replies, "So? I've done it before.")
Along the way, all three "boys" do a bit of maturing and start to grow beyond their prolonged childhoods. Robert gains a love interest (played by beautiful actress Audie England) and starts to take his career seriously; Mark gets over his "mid-life" crisis and accepts the fact that his 30th birthday draws nigh; and Bill's romancing of a pretty club owner (Deborah Van Valkenburgh, of TV's TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT) helps deflate his ego a bit.
The script for FREE ENTERPRISE is well written and witty, the talented cast delivers humorous yet warmly empathetic performances, and the high production values make this indie film look like it was produced on a larger budget and at a mainstream studio. The film has also won numerous awards, including Best New Writer(s) and Best Director at the 1998 AFI Film Fest, the Audience Award at the 1999 Newport Beach Film Festival, and the Saturn Award for the year 2000 from The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films. Yet FREE ENTERPRISE has never had a massive following and, consequently, has never fared too well financially. On one hand, it's not too hard to understand why this feature never became a MAINSTREAM hit. The dialogue is replete with SF, Fantasy, Comic Book, and Horror references that are too esoteric for non-genre viewers, and William Shatner's outrageously self-deprecating performance will mean little to anyone unfamiliar with the STAR TREK mythos. On the other hand, that specificity is what makes the film so thoroughly enjoyable and endearing to hard-core genre fans. So it is reasonable to conclude that, being geeky fanboys themselves, Burnett and Altman created FREE ENTERPRISE not as a lucrative commercial venture--despite the capitalistic title--but rather as a gift to all the other geeky genre fans out there.
Hard-core genre fans will get a real kick out of watching FREE ENTERPRISE, and the DVD from Pioneer Video is a must-own for any serious collector of SF and STAR TREK films. Although the widescreen transfer is letterbox and not anamorphic, the transfer is nonetheless beautifully crisp, the colors appear accurately balanced, and very few, if any, digital artifacts or filmic artifacts are noticeable. And the disc is packed with cool extras, including a feature commentary from filmmakers Burnett and Altman, a making-of featurette, and the outrageous Bard-inspired rap video by William Shatner and hip hop artist Rated R.