The career of SJF favorite William Shatner is a study in effective self-promotion. Working his way from the Canadian theater scene to the unflappable Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek, to wacko Denny Crane in Boston Legal, Shatner has made his fame one success (and failure) at a time. The one-man-show Shatner's World is more a retrospective celebration of the man than a release of new content, a fact which will entertain based entirely on your opinion of his career.
Shot in his native Ontario, Canada, Shatner moves around the stage with frenetic energy, that of a man 20 years his youth. His 'co-star' - an office chair - becomes an important vehicle as he tells about living in a trailer shell after Star Trek's cancellation, or his drive from Canada to Detroit to transport a rabbi, or his hilarious battle with a rat during a ski trip. Granted, we've heard some of these stories before, but it's his smart use of the calculated risk that both propelled his career and forms the basis of World. Even when disaster struck - as it did with the drowning death of his second wife in 1999 - Shatner used risk to rebound in stunning fashion, nabbing two Emmy awards along the way. In this, we learn about a man who elevated his standing to that of a social icon, felt extreme discomfort with that title, and later learned how to embrace it courtesy of his friend and fellow captain Patrick Stewart.
Such a rollercoaster would have ruined most actors, but Shatner kept at it, and his telling of various poor career choices - such as 1968's Transformed Man album - are just as rewarding as the high points. He uses self-deprecating humor to delve into an embarrassing moment of meeting Coco The Gorilla, while reminding us that he's just a guy who places long pauses between words for maximum effect. Shatner has a way of self-promotion that's as good as any high-priced agency pushing today's star loser teen. Being the captain of a starship still has its privileges, and in World his theme of taking calculated risks forms a solid anchor throughout the performance, reminding us that we should strive for the same in our professional lives. The fact that he wasn't taken seriously by Hollywood until his 60's is shortsighted and certainly makes a strong case for being successful in your later years. As an 83 year-old, the stand up does work to a point, but some might find the stories a little too rambling and the message too heavy. Yet, he continues to milk his successes with a longevity that would make anyone jealous, making World a pretty personal statement about tenacity.
Shatner's World won't sell out at the video kiosk, but fans will enjoy his rants while learning some of the inside stories that's made him a Hollywood icon. In a timer where self-promotion is the only way to get ahead, Shatner is an unqualified success. The stand-up is less so, but he's still Shatner, and that's good enough for us.
Shatner's World is Not Rated but does contain adult themes and language, and has a runtime of 96 minutes.
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