Star-Lord and Rocket

Monday, July 5, 2010

Free Enterprise (1998) - A modern cult sci-fi classic

I love Free Enterprise and have ever since I first saw it years ago. It tells of two friends Mark (Eric McCormack from Will & Grace) and Robert (newcomer Rafer Weigel) who are die hard Trek fans. They have been since childhood and would meet up later on as they grew older. They are aspiring film makers who live in LA and are trying to get this film idea called Bradykiller made. It's plot has a deranged serial killer targeting the Brady girls of the classic sitcom The Brady Bunch. That pretty much sets the tone for this wild and funny movie. They have idolized William Shatner ever since watching Star Trek the Motion Picture in 1979. In fact Robert's flashback of him in grade school is a riot. He is getting pummeled by the class bully and while semi-unconscious dreams of meeting Shatner. Robert asks him "does he know why he's getting beat up?" And Shat responds probably because you're wearing a yellow Trek tunic to school, which he is. Robert tells him no and that the bully says Han Solo is way cooler than Captain Kirk. Shat flips out and responds "Kick the fucker's ass!" Which leads to a funny fight scene that recalls Shatner's glory days on the Star Trek series, complete with soaring music in the background. And even a flying leg kick. Cool. Cut to years later, these two meet their idol William Shatner by chance at a bookstore and immediately strike up a conversation. Shatner kind of blows away their perception of what the guys thought he would be like in real life. They were hoping he would be like the heroic Captain Kirk, but he's not. He drinks a lot, has trouble making conversation with women, likes reading porn poetry and is a little off. He's trying to get his version of Julius Caesar made into a 5 hour film, in which the good captain would play all the parts. Kooky right? While Shatner's storyline makes up a significant part of this film, Mark and Robert also have problems of their own. Mark is freaking out that he is approaching 30 and hasn't made the impact in film that he thought he would have by now. His recurring nightmare of him being placed in Logan's Run world as he hits 30 is a surreal joke that is funny and unnerving. Meanwhile Robert is dealing with yet another break-up with his umpteenth girlfriend because he forgot to pay the light bill. But as she yells how can you remember every title of every episode of the effing show but can't remember to pay your light bill. Things look dour for Mark until he meets the carefree Claire (Audie England) at the comic bookstore and he definitely feels an attraction. While our boys are dealing with grand drama, the action shifts back to The Shat, who agrees to help the guys with their problems if they help him with his. What follows is a a good natured romantic type movie filled with tons of sci-fi references and lots of satire. It all ends with a double celebration of a private birthday screening of the classic Star Trek - The Wrath of Khan for Mark and a reunion for Robert and Claire. Shatner takes center stage for an impromptu rapping session of his Julius Caesar with some rappers backing him up. That scene has to be watched to truly appreciate it in all it's campy glory. It was cool to see William Shatner not take himself seriously and cut loose to remind you how talented this guy really is. If you have never seen Free Enterprise, now would be a good time to check it out. I hear they are close to getting ready to make the long awaited sequel.