Broderick plays Clark Kellogg, a country innocent newly arrived in New York to study film at university. Through the offices of hustling, thieving Vic (Kirby) he is employed as a "delivery boy" by Mafioso Carmine Sabatim (Brando). What he finds himself delivering - live endangered animals - lands him in a bizarre "sting", caught between the paternal gangster, FBI agents and outraged wildlife conservationists.
Fresh, frantic and unbelievably a flop in the States at time of release in 1990, The Freshman is notable as the first comedy in which Marlon Brando is actually funny, and the first film in which Matthew Broderick looks as old as he's supposed to be. It is also distinguished by the Best Performance By A Lizard ever.
Writer/director Andrew Bergman liberally peppers his imaginative, delightful tale with quirky characters and pointed laughs: Clark's film classes conducted by the pompous author of such tomes as Form And Content In 42nd Street, Brando's priceless send-up of his own Don Corleone, the animal rights fanatic who is totally oblivious of his own family.
Marvelous supporting performances from scene-stealing Kirby, Maximilian Schell, Paul Benedict as the nutty professor and Frank Whaley as Broderick's quiff-coiffed room mate pile on the pleasures, but the sight of Marlon Brando on ice skates is surely the absolute treat in a film well worth rooting for.
An underrated hidden treasure. Dig it up!