Monday, March 24, 2014

Free Enterprise

Free Enterprise(1998)
Directed by
Robert Meyer Burnett
Written by Mark A. Altman, Robert Meyer Burnett
Starring Eric McCormack, Rafer Weigel, Audie England, William Shatner.
IMDB Entry

TV stars have always had it rough.  Once they become associated with a role, it often follows them forever.  Al Hodge was recognized as Captain Video for years after the show ended, making it hard for him to get work.  George Reeves had a love/hate relationship with Superman.  Clayton Moore stopped trying to fight it and became the Lone Ranger for years after the show was off the air.  And William Shatner was willing to acknowledge his being identified as Captain Kirk, while also working to act in other roles.  Free Enterprise allowed him to poke fun at his image, while showing he could do something more.

The movie is semiautobiographical, actually based upon how it was made. Mark (Eric McCormack) and Robert Burnett (Refer Weigel)* were die hard geeks and whose greatest hero was William Shatner (William Shatner).  They happen to run into him and manage to convince him to appear in their movie. 

The movie is a loving tribute to geekdom, and Shatner has a field day.  His character is just short of crazy, a combination of the Shatner cliches of grandiose ego.  He insists, for instance, that he do a rap version of Marc Antony’s speech in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.**

Shatner at the time was at a lull in his career and his role here – and his penchant for comedy – revitalized it.  Actor Eric McCormick also was a TV star by the end of the year with Will and Grace.

*Who, not coincidentally, share their names with the film’s screenwriters.

**The movie depends on him being able to pull this off,

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