Free Enterprise (1998) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

"Steppin' into Eden. Yea, brother."

-- Song actually sung in this movie (very obscure Original Star Trek reference) --

Most indy movies which fail financially deserve to flop because, whether good or bad, they knew they were going for a small, elite audience. Once in a while, however, one of us runs into an enjoyable little movie which nobody has seen, and we think - if they could only have reached out to find their audience and to let them know what they had to offer, they would have had a hit. This is such a movie.

A couple of Star Trek geeks grow up, and try to become adults, but not very well-rounded ones. They're both in the movie industry, as they once dreamed to be, but the details of their careers didn't match the dreams very precisely. One of them is directing and editing cheesy softcore exploitation films ala Fred Olen Ray, and the other is producing and pitching slasher movies like "Brady Killers", which involves the Brady Bunch and is pretty much what you'd expect. The story is advanced by their new friendship with Bill Shatner, played by ... well, by Bill Shatner of course.


  • Stacey Rossman - breasts (deleted scenes only)

  • Kiera D'Andra - most of her butt

  • Audie England - breasts

  • Lori Lively - the full Monty in the deleted scenes, one breast in the final cut

It is a funny romantic comedy, to the extent that a romantic comedy can feature 30 year old hobbledehoys who still buy themselves action figures at Toys R Us. I mean these guys make Kevin Smith and his friends seem to be as mature and emotionally evolved as Oprah. Because of its unique selection of fanboys as romantic leads, Free Enterprise could have pretty broad appeal to those who would be predisposed to like romantic comedies, and to those who would normally be predisposed to sneer at romantic comedies (fanboys). Think of it as a more sophisticated version of Mallrats - Mallrats meets Swingers, if you will. Just about everyone who has seen it has enjoyed it. All twenty of us. The normally snooty BBC gave Free Enterprise four stars, and Rotten Tomatoes estimates that it received 85% positive reviews.
Never let it be said that Shatner has no sense of humor. He portrays himself exactly as his enemies see him. He raps, he reads porn, he sings, he mispronounces Kenneth Branagh's name, and he can't get laid despite trying non-stop. His only current showbiz project is a musical version of Julius Caesar in which he will play all the male parts, and he's trying to get Sharon Stone for Calpurnia. At one point one of the young guys tells Shatner that a girl he fancies "couldn't possibly like you less than your co-stars did". The film treads directly on every negative perception of Bill Shatner that has ever circulated. Shatner takes all the punches, but none of them proves to be the fatal sockdologer, and the bewigged one emerges from his affectionate faux pummeling as a man far more likeable than you would ever imagine. Even the music is OK. Although Shat can't sing, he does a pretty good job of rapping! (Well, I'm no expert on the subject, but I think it was quite OK).

DVD info from Amazon

  • Commentary by writer/director/editor Robert Meyer Burnett

  • Over 30 Minutes of Deleted Scenes

  • Original Featurette Includes The Making Of, Behind-the-Scenes Bloopers and Interviews with William Shatner and Cast

  • Screen Tests and Storyboards, Terminology Subtitle Track, Glossary of Free Enterprise Phrases

  • No Tears For Caesar Music Video

  • Widescreen letterbox format

If you like the original Star Trek this is a must-see because the references are fast and furious (most of them went way over my head). Even if you don't like Star Trek, I think you'll get a kick out of it. Ya gotta love Logan's Run jokes, naked chicks, discussions of the philosophy of Speed Racer, Shatner's goofy self-parody, and even more naked chicks in the deleted scenes. It's also a great DVD filled with so much dumb stuff you'll never get to it all. What's not to like?

The writers are now working on a sequel, to be released in 2004. I'm there, dude.

The Critics Vote

  • Panel consensus: three stars. BBC 4/5, Berardinelli 3/4.

The People Vote ...

  • It was essentially a straight-to-vid. It did appear briefly in nine theaters grossing virtually nothing. ($30,000)

The Official Site ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C+. A marvelous little film about geeks and their dreams. Talky 90's angst comedies aren't my cup of tea, but this one delivers quite a few laughs, and I really liked it.

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