Movies You May Have Missed: Free Enterprise

If you haven’t noticed by now, we here at the Fandom Menace are what can be best described as “Fucking Nerds”. And we take pride in that. There is nothing more rewarding to us than being able to get together, make random comments referencing a television show or film that only 20 people have ever seen, and enjoying how awesome we are that we are in on the joke. We all come from various areas of geekdom: Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the list goes on and on longer than pi. The problem is, it can be difficult to find others who are similar to us. We are community of hermits and shut ins, unwilling to attempt to reach out to their fellow brethren unless they are wearing a costume at a convention.

My people.

There are examples out there in the world that properly display this community we geeks call home. One of the best examples I have ever seen is Free Enterprise, a story of love, life, and friendship in a world filled with lightsabers and photon torpedos.

The story centers around Mark (Eric McCormack, Will and Grace) and Robert (Rafer Weigel, I am Sam), two friends and die hard Star Trek fans struggling to survive in the dog-eat-dog world of Los Angeles while facing the realities that they are on the brink of becoming thirty-somethings. Mark, the cynical know-it-all, acts as the Jiminy Cricket to Robert’s child-like behavior. Like most nerds too far down in the vortex of science fiction/fantasy,  Robert consistently avoids the responsibilities that come with being an adult. After yet another breakup, it becomes apparent that Robert is much like Peter Pan, fighting to the notion that he must grow up. Things change for Robert and Mark when they come face to face with their hero, Mr. William Shatner, and they learn that the fantasy is far from the reality.

Pictured: Far from Reality

The movie is one pop culture reference after the next. From “Almost there… Stay on target.”, to referring to a person who has betrayed you as being a “Baltar”, almost every other line of dialogue is paying subtle, yet loving tribute to the films we nerds cherish so dearly. The running theme of growing up and the fear of advancing age is brilliantly handled by using the film Logan’s Run (one of my personal favorites) in which the plot revolves around a society that kills off it’s people once they reach the age of 30.

Seriously, watch this movie.

Based on the real life friendship between creators Mark Altman and Robert Burnett, it is clear that these two have the same bond that many of us out there can easily relate to. They are able to throw jokes back and forth to each other without expecting any type of laughter, and yet they aren’t afraid to let the metaphorical adamantium claws come out when one pisses off the other. The best part about the film is the willingness of Altman and Burnett to show their flaws on-screen just as much (if not more) as their strengths.

The performances are fantastic throughout. Each character is a very specific archetype of nerd/geek that flirts with becoming too over exagerrated, but pulls it back just enough to make it seem believable. The idea of Shatner playing a very over the top, down-on-his-luck version of himself adds for very funny moments and gives the audience the chance to see that he is just an average guy trying to survive in this world just like all of us.

Okay, maybe not ALL of us.

The film manages to successfully capture what it’s like to be a person obsessed with pop culture while living with people who are either oblivious to it or criticize you for loving it so much. Loving such nonsense can be confusing to outsiders, and can sometimes alienate us from them. That is why it is so important to surround yourself with around others like you, otherwise you end up hating the entire world rather than the vast majority of it. And that is why Free Enterprise is a must-see for any guy or girl who lives and breathes all things geek. Take it from the words of Shatner himself: “Guys, you gotta mix a little reality in with your imagination to achieve happiness in your life. And you’ve gotta overcome your programming – which in your case is a thirty-year-old television show.”

Live long and party!

RATING: 7/10

~ by Brandon Gnuschke on December 12, 2011.

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