Free Enterprise

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Free Enterprise

Since the Pulp Fiction phenomenon, American independent cinema has steadily built on a shaky foundation of pop-culture references and fanboy lingo, a house of cards that just might collapse with the sight of William Shatner, heavy gold chains draped around his neck, rapping a Shakespearean monologue in Free Enterprise. First-time co-writers Mark A. Altman and Robert Meyer Burnett (who also directs), both avid Star Trek fans, cast Shatner as a wish-fulfillment fantasy, but the snarky pleasure they get from showing the venerable Captain Kirk thumbing through pornography and cursing remains entirely their own. It's little wonder that their alter egos in the film, Rafer Weigel and Eric McCormack, are too entrenched in obsessive science-fiction geekdom to sustain any long-term relationships. When Weigel finally stumbles upon his dream woman—that is, someone impressed that he has all five Planet Of The Apes movies letterboxed on imported Japanese laserdisc—his childish old habits hinder their romance. Shatner presides over the men like Bogart in Play It Again, Sam, but his ideas, such as a six-hour musical version of Julius Caesar, are not always as helpful as they expect. Free Enterprise more than echoes Swingers in its depiction of film-conscious L.A. hipsters and the tacit responsibility these friends have to each other, though it's nowhere near as funny or well-observed. Altman and Burnett fire off nods to Alien, Speed Racer, Logan's Run, and obscure episodes of Star Trek, but a few clever references can't carry this thin, self-indulgent, resoundingly hollow piece of personal filmmaking.

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