Film Commentary [12-10-99]
Live long and party - - Free Enterprise
Genre: Comedy Grade = A-



This film begins unassumingly as Mark (Eric McCormack - Will and Grace) is pitching a film idea to a studio head. It is called Brady-Killer, a film about a serial killer that only targets women named Marcia, Jan and Cindy. This gives you some idea of the general direction the film follows. It is the story of two men and their friends who are the product of an American television childhood. They are Star Trek and general science fiction film and TV fanatics who spend their time and their money watching old TV shows and movies, collecting SF junk and one-uping each other on trivia references.

We are then subject to two flashbacks. First it is 1980 and 12 year-old Mark is in line to see the opening showing of Star Trek: the Motion Picture. He is refused entrance because they don’t allow unaccompanied children in the theater after six o’clock. He thinks quickly and dreams of what Kirk would do in this situation. William Shatner enters as his fantasy self, “Why do you want to see this picture so badly? Haven’t you seen the reviews?” Mark quickly comes up with a solution that involves dragging his mother out of her bank. Switch next to a flashback of Mark’s best friend Robert (Rafer Weigel - Jenny). There is a crowd of children yelling "Fight! Fight!" Robert, clad in a torn old fashioned gold Star Fleet officer’s tunic is fighting a bigger kid. He is hit hard and goes down. Shatner enters again and tells Robert that perhaps gold is not his color and he should wear something that won’t start fights. Robert incrediously tells him that he was the one who started the fight, “...because he (the other kid) said Han Solo was cooler than Captain Kirk.” “Kick his fuckin’ ass,” responds Shatner. Robert wakes up and proceeds to down his opponent with a classic Shatner double-foot drop kick to the chest, and beating him senseless.

Fast forward to 1999. Mark is hard-working sci-fi magazine publisher and film maker wannabe, financially well-off, but is afraid to make a commitment to a woman. His relationships are mostly with women he finds annoying. On the other hand, Robert, now a part-time film editor, is moderately successful with women, but is a financial mess, putting his obsession for science fiction collectables ahead of the utilities and rent. His girlfriend dumps him because he’s pawned his computer and she takes the Starship Enterprise Christmas ornament she had given him as a present with her (now worth $300). Eventually, he meets Claire in a comic book store. She's beautiful and just as big a science fiction and comics fan as he is. She's his perfect match, but his friends become jealous of the time he spends with her.

Robert is concerned with his age. He’s going to be thirty in two weeks and he doesn’t even have a girl friend. Mark tells him that turning thirty is no big deal. Robert retorts, “You won’t think that in six months when you turn 30 and your palm starts flashing red.” Mark and Robert enter a book store and discuss their situations when, amazingly, they see William Shatner there ogling a porn mag. They rush to meet him and tell him how much they respect him like a couple of slobbering idiots. Used to getting this, Shatner brushes them off and goes looking for books. They proceed to stalk him through the store. Finally, they tell him that they are not just your average Trekkie creeps and they themselves are in the film business (lying outrageously) and invite him for drinks, which he accepts. After a few glasses of green liquor, Bill begins to tell them his troubles. His girl friend just left him and he wants to do a musical of the full version of Shakespear’s Julius Caesar, with himself playing all the parts. They quickly become friends, with Shatner seeing them as a way of getting his ridiculous movie done. Soon, Robert is erasing the phone messages Shatner leaves for him.

Free Enterprise is a smorgasbord of science fiction references, ranging from Star Trek dialogue to the truly obscure (the green liquor is supposed to be Saurian Brandy). Green alien women fetishes, comic books, action figures costing ridiculous prices, and significantly, they throw in quite a few Logan’s Run references (flashing palm), a pre-Star Wars 1970s movie that was the most popular science fiction film of the time. Many sci-fi fans, Trekkies or otherwise, will immediately identify with the film's constant stream of SF references. William Shatner's performance is hilarious as a parody of himself, and in the bizarre final scene he starts rapping a hip-hop version of Brutus’ funeral speech from Julius Caesar.

This is quite frankly the perfect film for a sci-fi fan. Now this film, and Trekkies are available on video. Watch them both together. Hint: watch the closing credits carefully.

Glossary of terms used in the film.


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