Edition - 1999 (2000) - Pioneer
by Jeff Kleist of The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
114 min, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), single-sided,
dual-layered (layer switch ??), Amaray keep case packaging, audio
commentary (with Robert Meyer Burnett and Mark Altman), trivia
subtitle track, deleted scenes with optional commentary, "behind-the-scenes"
documentary, screen tests, glossary, No
Tears for Caesar music video, gag reel, animated
film-themed menus with sound, scene access (25 chapters), languages:
English (DD 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned
have the Japanese five-volume laserdisc box set of the Planet
of the Apes movies, letterboxed."
"OK, what about your home theater system?"
"Five-track Dolby Digital surround sound with a forty-inch
"Not bad, subwoofer?"
"Well, umm, no... you see I live on the upper floor of a
duplex, you know, neighbors..."
"Oh... I see."
Free Enterprise is probably
the ultimate film for the Home Theater Enthusiast. Shot right before
the DVD boom really kicked in, it still to this day serves as a
celluloid monument to our geekdom. Our two protagonists, Robert
(Raef Weigel) and Mark (Will & Grace's
Eric McCormack), own large Pioneer Elite television sets and
laserdisc players, have shelves full of toys and walls full of movie
posters. Manhood is not measured by the horsepower of one's car, but
by the width of one's subwoofer. These two Star
Trek/film geeks have the ultimate opportunity when they
meet William Shatner by chance in a used book store. They discover
that, in real life, he is not the Captain who bedded a thousand
aliens, but a raving loon who wants to make a Julius Caesar musical
starring himself in all the roles (with the fortunate exception of
Calpernia). With a setup like that, can anything but wackiness
Sporting an unfortunately non-anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer on DVD
(something that the producers publicly apologize for on the
commentary) Free Enterprise
looks pretty good for a low budget film. While most of the film
exhibits a characteristic soft look, it works with the overall
earthen color scheme the movie goes for.
Sonically, Free Enterprise
delivers what is required - no more no less. This is a dialogue
driven film and doesn't really need a thumping 5.1 track to be
enjoyed. Dialogue is clean, and we do get some nice bass for the
closing No Tears for Caesar
number, details of which are too good to spoil. Suffice to say, be
What would an homage to home theater geekdom be without one of the
most elaborate special editions yet made? Not only are we treated to
a fantastic commentary track by the real-life Robert & Mark,
detailing in-joke after in-joke that their on-screen alter-egos are
experiencing (and having a ripping good time doing it), but we also
delve into the hour-long documentary, mostly shot on the set during
the actual production. Watch our heroes try to look important
through their exhaustion. William Shatner really shines here - I
think he saw this film as a way to really give his image a rebirth,
and it shows in the behind-the-scenes footage. For those for whom
cheesy sci-fi is not an obsession, a handy subtitle track is
provided explaining the myriad of quotes and references present
during the film. Finishing out the robust extras package are 30
minutes of deleted scenes, each with a bumper in front of them to
put the scene in context with the rest of the movie. As with many
deleted scenes, some are great, some fall flat, but hey... they're
there and that's always a good thing.
If you love your DVD player, and have some of that inner-geek
surfacing, you'll have a great time with Free
Enterprise on disc. It's not going to rock your HT hard,
but it does the job. I love this film - it's Clerks
without the crass, with a bit of normalcy thrown in. While I myself
fall in between the two star characters, I think most movie fans
will see themselves in these guys, truly creating a universal film.
It's just too bad it's never gotten the publicity it really