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Free Enterprise (1998)

Cast: Rafer Weigel, Rafer Weigel, Eric McCormack, more...
Director: Robert Meyer Burnett, Robert Meyer Burnett
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Geneon
Genre: Comedies, Romantic Comedy
Running Time: 114 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

This title is currently out of print.

With a little help from the commander of the Starship Enterprise, two geeky sci-fi buffs venture into the final frontier -- finding a steady girlfriend -- in this satiric comedy. Mark (Eric McCormack) and Rob (Rafer Weigel) are two guys in their late 20s who are emotionally stuck in adolescence; they're obsessed with science fiction, comics, and collectable toys, and they aren't especially graceful or successful in their relationships with the opposite sex. While both have actually been able to turn their obsessions into careers -- Mark edits a sci-fi fanzine, while Rob works at a film production house -- both feel the need for guidance as they approach 30. As children, they used to imagine themselves being counseled by William Shatner, whose role as Capt. Kirk on Star Trek elevated him to the status of a deity in their eyes. To their amazement, one day Mark and Rob meet Shatner in a bookstore and actually strike up a friendship with him, only to discover that he is just as confused about life, women, and work as they are (though he does confess his burning ambition to produce a new version of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in which he plays all the characters himself). Emboldened by his new friendship with Capt. Kirk -- wait, make that William Shatner -- Rob begins pursuing a romance with Claire (Audie England), a fellow sci-fi fan who is pretty, charming, and a few steps up on the maturity ladder from himself. But this is bad news for Mark, who isn't at all happy to be losing his best friend to some girl. Free Enterprise was the first feature for writer/director Robert Meyer Burnett and screenwriter Mark A. Altman, who freely (and rather bravely) admit that the lead characters are based upon themselves. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

RAISED BY A TREKKIE by stypee February 1, 2005 - 7:39 AM PST
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
At times the film appears to be misguided and disjointed but presents a very refreshing relief to an under-appreciated dream based on two filmmakers. Shot during the in between of "the death of LASERDISC and start of the DVD revolution" the plot follows two polar opposites with an obsession primarily on SCI-FI flicks and of course, the original season of STAR TREK. While one works as an editor for FULL ECLIPSE entertainment (a pun on the infamous Charles Band FULL MOON) and the other a writer for a magazine aptly titled GEEK.

Robert (played by Eric McCormick) is the inspiring screenwriter with a dream, writing a film based on a massacre of THE BRADY FAMILY (yes the "bunch") and Mark (Rafel Weger) is essentially the ultimate slacker quite literally finding his way in the pants of any woman that strikes his fancy. Until he meets his ultimate dream girl.

Mark lives his life day to day, arriving to work whenever he feels like it and in debt to his closest friends to pay the bills. His pay checks go to toys that only the serious fans of science fiction and fantasy would recognize. Let's not also forget his enormous LASERDISC collection. His life comes to an end when his girlfriend leaves him and takes his most precious gift, a STAR TREK ornament.

The film finally hits while the two venture into a bookstore and discover their idle, William Shatner, reading, of all things, an adult magazine. A pursuit soon follows and they soon discover that their icon isn't all that he's cracked up to be, in fact, he's a bit off. His dream is to create a "musical rendition of JULIES CEASER with himself playing all the parts".

That's pretty dam funny as well as the stellar dialogue that requires a handful of viewings to catch (you won't mind watching this film a few times), there are so many references and puns in this little piece of cinema that some of the most die hard fans of the genre are likely to stumble over them. When you do finally catch them and their true meanings, you'll be laughing yourself silly. The SPECIAL EDITION actually has a feature with subtitles just for these moments and it's well worth it.

The disjointed elements of the film come off a little more self serving, leaving Mark's backstory hard to follow. During moments where their "out on the town", Mark has this obnoxious and uncomfortable presence about him. He has an attitude towards waitress' for example, always giving the impression that he's above everybody. When his with his friends, the role is complete opposite, he's a likable character and one would hinder whether or not those demoralizing comments were really necessary. There is a defining confrontation when both characters come face to face during a huge spat and much of Mark's personalty is explained but it's never really established, it's just bits and pieces here and there.

The film also lacks a primary focus about who the main character really is. We've got a talented cast with moments of people who appear and than reappear out of no where without any really explanation. While all these questions are answered in the disc's EXTRAS, one is still left with a question mark rising above their heads.

William Shatner does a wonderful job poking fun at himself. It was quite enjoyable watching him on-screen literally destroying that iconic visionary many Trekkies seems to adhere. In the rather lengthy "making of documentary"; Shatner explains he hadn't any desire to do the film, he felt it too "embarrassing", while some viewers may see this statement as "vain" it actually makes sense after the director and writer(s) tell the story that it was actually Shatner's idea to make him a goofy, somewhat "messed up" guy having problems in relationships and the trials and tribulations of being a normal guy. The best line with Shatner occurs during the films climax, it's said by Mark and I won't spoil it for you since I can't recommend this film enough.

There are a few technical issues with the film that were a bit annoying, the cameraman had moments where the image was occasionally out of focus, the built sets were a bit below the cheesy mark and of course their is the suspension of disbelief that's a major requirement for viewing. Not to contradict the latter statement but there are moments that'll hit close to home to any film buff and FREE ENTERPRISE is certainly one of them.

If you get the SPECIAL EDITION, I recommend watching every little EXTRA thrown in, it's worth it. I look forward to seeing a "prosperous" future for both of these filmmakers.

Disclaimer: I am not a TREKKIE but was clearly raised by one. You may want to pay attention to that "subtitle" feature".

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.95)
22 Votes
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Vasquez Rocks & the movie landscape of your mind.
Just north of L.A., in Aqua Dulce, CA, lie some familiar-looking rocks that seem to reach into the sky. Here's a list of a few of the movies and TV shows that were filmed at Vasquez Rocks.

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