The Freshman is a 1990 crime comedy film written and directed by Andrew Bergman (Honeymoon in Vegas, It Could Happen to You, Striptease, and So Fine). It was produced by Mike Lobell (Big Trouble, Chances Are, White Fang, Tears of the Sun, Windows, and Little Big League). Marlon Brando publicly condemned this film after producers refused to pay him an additional million after going over schedule but they changed their minds quick when it started to hurt the production. The budget was $12 million and it grossed $21,460,601 at the box office!!!!
Clark Kellogg (played by: Matthew Broderick from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Biloxi Blues, The Cable Guy, and Godzilla) leaves his mother (played by: Pamela Payton-Wright from Homicide: Life on the Street, Ironweed, and One Life to Live) and environmental activist stepfather Dwight (played by: Kenneth Welsh from Twin Peaks, The Fog, Timecop, and Survival of the Dead) in Vermont to go to New York University (NYU) to study film. After arriving at Grand Central Terminal, he is approached by stranger Victor Ray (played by: Bruno Kirby from City Slickers 1/2, Donnie Brasco, The Godfather: Part II, and The Basketball Diaries) who offers to give him a ride from there at a low price. As soon as Clark steps out of the car, Victor drives off with Clark’s luggage still in the trunk. Clark reports this to his instructor at NYU Professor Fleeber (played by: Paul Benedict from The Addams Family, A Mighty Wind, Waiting for Guffman, and This Is Spinal Tap) who uses his own books as required study. Clark chases down Victor after seeing him on the street. Victor claims to have almost nothing left but offers him a job as reimbursement.
In Little Italy, Clark is introduced to Victor’s uncle Carmine Sabatini (played by: Marlon Brando from The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Superman, and The Island of Dr. Moreau). Carmine offers Clark the opportunity to make a lot of money just for running small errands. The first is to pick up a Komodo dragon from JFK Airport and transport it to a specific address. Clark enlists the help of his roommate Steve Bushak (played by: Frank Whaley from Pulp Fiction, Swimming with Sharks, The Doors, and Vacancy) to pick up the animal and deliver it to Larry London (played by: Maximilian Schell from A Bridge Too Far, Deep Impact, Vampires, and Wiseguy) with his assistant Edward (played by: BD Wong from the Jurassic Park franchise, Gotham, OZ, and Mr. Robot). Clark is introduced to Carmine’s daughter Tina (played by: Penelope Ann Miller from Carlito’s Way, The Shadow, Kindergarten Cop, and Adventures in Babysitting) who takes an immediate shine to him.
He is soon being chased by agents Chuck Greenwald (played by: Jon Polito from Miller’s Crossing, The Crow, The Man Who Wasn’t There, and The Big Lebowski) and Lloyd Simpson (played by: Richard Gant from Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, Deadwood, Rocky V, and Godzilla) of the Department of Justice. After being caught, Clark is told that Carmine is also known as “Jimmy The Toucan”, not only is a Mafia figure but runs the Fabulous Gourmet Club. It is an illicit and nomadic establishment, never holding its festivities in the same place twice, where for enormous prices endangered animals are served as the main course, specially prepared by Larry London. Clark is told that “for the privilege of eating the very last of a species”, a million dollars is charged. Clark finds out that his activist stepfather listened in on a conversation with his mother. Right after Clark mentioned the Komodo dragon, Dwight contacted the Department of Justice. The ambitious Clark Kellogg is now stuck between the law and the mob in his new home New York, can he survive the both of them long enough to finish film school????
The Freshman is a hilarious spoof on crime and the mafia. The script is great here and it features several laugh out loud moments. Matthew Broderick gives one of his best performances here as the ambitious film student trying to survive in the big city. I can’t believe they actually got Marlon Brando to spoof his legendary Don Vito Corleone character from The Godfather here. For the most part, he was a very serious actor and he didn’t really do stuff like this but I am glad that he did. Brando was funny as hell as the importer with a shady past trying to do something different with his business. It’s rare to see to the actual performer spoofing their own material and Brando played it just right here. One of the best things about The Freshman is it’s amazing supporting cast that includes Kenneth Welsh, Bruno Kirby, Paul Benedict, Jon Polito, BD Wong, Frank Whaley, Richard Gant, Penelope Ann Miller, and Leonardo Cimino (The Monster Squad). I especially loved the performances/characters of Bruno Kirby and BD Wong here. They were both oddballs that brought something unique to this production. This is some of the best acting that you will ever see in a comedy. The Freshman never takes itself serious and it’s a disastrous entertaining adventure the entire time. It still holds up as one of the highest quality and fun mob spoofs ever made, RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Mill Creek Entertainment! This 1080p (1.79:1) transfer is unfortunately and older one but it’s still a little better than it’s previous DVD and VHS home video releases. I’m always honest here and this one is a little rough so consider yourself warned. To be fair, The Freshman has never looked great when it comes to video quality and it kinda stays that way here but it’s still a small improvement from the past. The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track is solid and it’s basically the same as the last home video release. All of the dialogue is very clean, the comedy is elevated, and the music has a nice boost to it. It has English SDH subtitles. There’s no extras on the disc. It does come with a really cool limited edition retro VHS style slipcover. This one doesn’t look great and the sound is solid but it still better than what we had in the past for The Freshman. This might be the best that you can get for this 1990 crime spoof. At least, Mill Creek releases are always affordable and on sale. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!