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Mannequin
1987 - PG - 90 Mins.
Director: Michael Gottlieb
Producer: Art Levinson
Written By: Michael Gottlieb, Edward Rugoff
Starring: Andrew McCarthy, Kim Cattrall, Estelle Getty, James Spader, G. W. Bailey, Carole Davis, Meshach Taylor
Review by: Jake Cremins
   

Fun Fact: before 'Sex and the City,' Kim Cattrall had one of the most depressing careers in Hollywood!
'Mannequin' is one of the stupidest movies I have ever seen. It is stupid to the core. From the first scene in ancient Egypt to the last in modern-day Philadelphia, it takes no chances and makes no compromises in its search for the stupidest way to tell the stupidest story, with stupid characters doing one stupid thing after another. You don't want to watch this movie, you want to pull the plug and keep it from living as a vegetable.

The movie is a cheap, Z-grade ripoff of 'Splash,' that 1984 hit in which Daryl Hannah was a gorgeous mermaid who emerged from the ocean to fall in love with Tom Hanks. In 'Mannequin,' Kim Cattrall is Emmy, a beautiful Egyptian woman who is inexplicably reborn as a mannequin designed by Jonathan (Andrew McCarthy). Jonathan already seems unusually attracted to his creations, so it's probably a blessing for all when this one comes to life in time to prevent any violations of the morals code; all is not perfect, however, for only he can see Kim Cattrall, and everyone else sees a lifeless mannequin. (In a movie without an original bone in its body, the one unusual touch is that everyone else in the movie more or less assumes that Jonathan is having sex with a department store dummy, and yet nobody seems to mind or care.)

And so Jonathan is inspired to create fancy window dressings by Emmy the mannequin/Egyptian princess. The window dressings, which include such earth-shattering ideas as having mannequins riding bicycles in front of a moving backdrop, draw gigantic crowds of delighted Philadelphians, which in a smarter movie would have been a joke, but here seems to be a plot point we're meant to take seriously. Wandering around like lobotomy patients, or maybe the zombies from 'Dawn of the Dead,' the extras eventually find the entrance to the beleagured department store and buy enough things to save it from bankruptcy. This angers the management at the trendy new department store down the street, who blah blah blah blah. Who cares.

One of the funniest bits in 'Splash,' I'm sure you'll agree, was when Hannah wandered around Bloomingdale's in awe, got a makeover and learned how to speak from watching game shows. 'Mannequin' at first seems to take no chances by taking place almost entirely inside a department store, but somehow the filmmakers have forgotten to provide Cattrall with one moment of surprise at anything she encounters. Fun game to play while watching this movie: count how many modern inventions she finds and seems to know all about instantly (I got stereos, motorcycles, tennis racquets, electric guitars, hang gliders and the English language, but I'm sure I missed a few).

'Mannequin' may be worthless as entertainment, but it's pretty fascinating as a textbook example of how to screw up a solid premise. The direction, by Michael Gottlieb, and the screenplay by Gottlieb and Edward Rugoff, is a collection of stock movie material, with characters who might as well be wearing nametags (YUPPIE, FLAMBOYANT GAY MAN, SWEET OLD LADY), all directed at the exact same level of generic blather. You can practically hear Gottlieb saying from offscreen that if everyone pops their eyes out enough and yells their lines loudly enough they'll become funny. Movies like this make you feel truly sorry for the actors, whose only defense in the face of such idiocy is probably to recite their dialogue while imagining themselves doing real work somewhere else.

I still liked McCarthy, who has a pleasingly honest face, and Cattrall, who is as beautiful and energetic as ever, but I was mostly just reliving echoes of stuff like 'Pretty in Pink' and 'Big Trouble in Little China.' Other victims include Estelle Getty, who's given no opportunity to use the sharp wit she employs on "The Golden Girls," and James Spader, who's hidden beneath Coke-bottle glasses and hair so thoroughly and unbelievably slicked down that it keeps stealing all of his scenes. Meshach Taylor at least can't be accused of sleeping on the job, but when you're playing a superlatively gay window dresser named "Hollywood," does it matter?

If it weren't for the whole kinky angle of a character who may or may not be sleeping with mannequins, this would be the perfect movie for undiscriminating five-year-olds.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Unwatchable.  One of the worst of the year.  Skip it.
  0.5 out of 5 stars

 
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