Mannequin (1987)

Mannequin posterStarring Andrew McCarthy, Kim Cattrall, James Spader, Meshach Taylor, Estelle Getty, G.W. Bailey.
Written by Michael Gottlieb, David Isaacs, Ken Levine & Edward N. Rugoff.
Directed by Michael Gottlieb.

Grade: F

Review by Carlo Cavagna.

Mannequin is the epitome of the cheezy 1980s movie. It features original Brat Packer Andrew McCarthy, Porky's star Kim Cattrall (who is a better actress than her filmography suggests, although that is not evident here), and James Spader in the James Spader Role (you know, the James Spader Role: the preppie jerk, or the slimy businessman, or the slimy preppie businessman jerk). It contains numerous Eighties jokes, such as a guard dog named Rambo that turns tail and runs at the first sign of trouble. The soundtrack is a ripoff of Harold Faltermeyer's Beverly Hills Cop score and also includes Starship's Oscar-nominated Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now. The inevitable musical montage consists of McCarthy and Cattrall trying on numerous quintessentially Eighties outfits (e.g., the Madonna outfit, the Tina Turner outfit). Mannequin also foists onto the audience an offensive Eighties homosexual stereotype in the form of window dresser Hollywood Montrose (TV's Designing Women's Meshach Taylor).

Mannequin parallels the legend of Pygmalion and Galatea. Pygmalion, a sculptor, created a statue so perfect that he fell passionately in love with it. The goddess Aphrodite pitied Pygmalion and gave the statue life. In this hack Hollywood update of that ancient Greek myth, Kim Cattrall plays Emmy, an unhappy young woman in ancient Egypt who appeals to the gods to help her avoid an arranged marriage to a cattle dung merchant. The gods transport her to the present day in the form of mannequin that comes to life only in the presence of its designer, department store employee Jonathan Switcher (Andrew McCarthy). (In addition to this premise, we're also asked to believe that the financial fates of department stores can turn on the design of a single window display.) Of course, McCarthy and Cattrall fall in love, and you can imagine the predictable shenanigans that follow. Mannequin brings nothing new to the fantasy-dream-woman-comes-from-out-of-nowhere-and-falls-into-lap-of-dorky-guy formula, and it's particularly derivative of similar Eighties fare such as Weird Science and Splash.

Although laughably awful, Mannequin was a minor success at the box office. It spawned an even more atrocious 1991 sequel. Presumably, whoever came up with the idea of a Mannequin Two didn't last long enough in the film industry to give life to many more such brainchildren. Or at least, one hopes.

Review © April 1999 by AboutFilm.Com and the author.
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