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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 8/15/02

Free Enterprise
Special Edition - 1999 (2000) - Pioneer

review by Jeff Kleist of The Digital Bits

Free Enterprise: Special Edition

Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/B/A+

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

"I 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 screen."

"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 ensue?

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 afraid.

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 deserves.

Jeff Kleist
[email protected]

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