I’ve reviewed a most-horrid “summer” flick “Corvette Summer” (click here for my review) that wasn’t even in the slightest way entertaining. Well, today I’m writing about a film that’s not “summer” themed but it is just as bad – yet, at the same time, it is entertaining and certainly watchable. “Mannequin” fails at all levels like “Corvette Summer,” but you’ll enjoy the time it takes to watch because you won’t have to think or wonder if any of the actors received an Academy Award nomination, much less win one. “Mannequin” has all the stereotypes you can expect and doesn’t do most them well, but you’ll smile anyway. Check this one out because it is often on the cable movie grid.
(1987; 90 minutes; rated PG-13; directed by Michael Gottlieb and starring Andrew McCarthy, Kim Cattrall and James Spader)
SUSPEND YOUR DISBELIEF … OBVIOUSLY!
(NOTE: I expanded this review with additional opinion and trivia and the updating of links on April 30, 2020.)
It doesn’t take watching “Mannequin” for you to understand that Andrew McCarthy has very little acting talent. The lack of ability is easily seen in “Weekend at Bernie’s” (click here for my review), which was made after “Mannequin,” or the “Brat Pack” ensemble film “St. Elmo’s Fire,” which was made before. But no matter how bad McCarthy manages to come off, he and “Mannequin” are fun, watchable and they certainly do not strain anything except your ability to suspend your disbelief.
From the tacky opening scene in an Egyptian pyramid (I guess that’s what it is) to the final one that closes “Mannequin” out on a happy note, there isn’t even a single glimmer of decent acting here – although James Spader as a nerdy, snobbish and stereotypically effeminate executive has such a tremendously awful role (even his hair and clothes reek as obviously intended) that he actually had to be good to be so bad.
The biggest surprise is that “Mannequin” actually was nominated for an Academy Award. It goes without saying it was not nominated for acting. It was for music with the nomination for Best Original Song with the wonderful “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” by “Starship” (originally “The Jefferson Airplane” that became “Jefferson Starship” and finally reformed as just “Starship”). The song was also nominated for a Golden Globe.
Well, back to actually what you’ll see in “Mannequin.” It is the story of an artistic young man (“Jonathan Switcher” played by McCarthy) who cannot stay employed at any job. He’s fired from one when he falls in love with a mannequin he builds. He winds up decorating windows at the department store where the mannequin is on display. The mannequin comes to life just for him and becomes his muse. Of course, he falls in love with her even though she reverts to being a mannequin whenever anyone else appears.
“Mannequin” has all the stereotypes you can imagine: a straight-shooting older rich woman (Estelle Getty); a flamboyant homosexual (Meschach Taylor as the delightful “Hollywood Montrose”); a strange, back-stabbing executive (Spader); and a creepy security guard (G.W. Bailey). In the most stereotypical aspect of all bad movies – it has a dog that is a character.
Well, that’s all you really need to know about the plot, so I’ll move right along to looking at some of the primary cast:
- As the young(er) man here, McCarthy simply showed no signs of being able to give a competent performance and “Mannequin” is just one example. It was his sixth film role and he was marginally better in “Pretty in Pink.” I liked him best later in his career as the killer in an episode of TV’s “Monk.” Still, while not much of a good actor, McCarthy does entertain with some degree of earnestness – so just go with that description here.
- A Golden Globe winner and three-time nominee (not for this one), Kim Cattrall came into “Mannequin” quite a veteran, with her career having started a dozen years before. Cattrall plays “Ema ‘Emmy’ Hesire” and is the mannequin that only comes to life for McCarthy. She doesn’t do anything here but give an embarrassing performance, but, like McCarthy, is likable and watchable. If you’d like to see her in something better (no, not the “Sex and the City” TV show where she earned her Globe and nominations), try “Turk 182!” (click here for my review). She’s good in a small role there and, of course, is the legendary “Miss Honeywell” (or better known as “Lassie”) in the iconic teen comedy “Porky’s” (click here for my review). Cattrall also enjoyed showing herself off in “Live Nude Girls.”
- I’m sure the homosexual community was embarrassed by the stereotyped “Hollywood” character, but Primetime Emmy nominee Taylor does his energetic best – so forgive him and just enjoy his enthusiasm and pithy comments. Taylor does give viewers some anticipation of what he’ll do next when he comes into a scene … and that’s not bad (actually high praise for this film). He was definitely excellent and earned his nomination for TV’s “Designing Women” and you probably don’t remember his small role in “Damien: Omen II” (if you even managed to watch it – click here for my review). Taylor died of cancer at 67 in 2014.
- A three-time Golden Globe nominee (not for this one), Spader must have found his motivation to play “Mr. Richards” in a twisted nightmare. He’s just so over-the-top weird here that what should be stereotypes (his slicked-down hair and pompous attitude) come off as creepy and more suited to a suspect on “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.” He’s so bad that he must have some talent. Spader was simply outstanding as the psycho killer in the dark drama “2 Days in the Valley” (click here for my review); solid as the dominant boss in the S&M flick “Secretary;” and more recently has been on TV’s “The Blacklist” and he earned two of his nominations for it. Spader was also nominated for his work on “Boston Legal.”
- “Golden Girl” Getty doesn’t do anything right as department store owner “Claire Timkin.” She overacts each line (her facial expression for emphasis is particularly lame) and nothing about her talent manages in any way to help the film. A Golden Globe winner (and two nominations) for TV’s “The Golden Girls,” Getty was in another bad film “Stop! Or My Mom will Shoot” and the much better “Mask.” She died at age 84 in 2008 of Lewy body dementia.
- Bailey plays security guard “Capt. Felix Maxwell” and always appears as if he lacks any motivation to do the character. However, I’d say Bailey deserved this paycheck after his work in the “Police Academy” franchise. Further, he had to work with a dog named “Rambo” in this film – and it didn’t even get a credit here with its real name as many films do for animal actors. Odd how much better both Cattrall and Bailey were in “Police Academy.” Bailey showed how to play the butt of jokes in that film, but just fuddles around from scene to scene here. He was in “Rustlers’ Rhapsody” and notched a bushel of TV credits.
Finally, I’ll come to Carole Davis as “Roxie Shield.” She’s McCarthy’s girlfriend who’s pushing him away at first but then tries to reel him in to design windows at another store. Davis actually shows some energy in her work here. Still, the energy is a thin veneer to what could have been (probably the best tag line for this movie). You probably remember seeing her three years earlier in “The Flamingo Kid” (she was Carole R. Davis for that one) – click here for my review.
The rest of the cast? Forget ’em. They might not be bad actors overall, but they sure don’t deserve any attention for “Mannequin.”
“Mannequin” was the 27th ranked film at U.S. theaters in 1987 with $42.7 million in ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo. It was made on a budget of $7.9 million, according to Wiki. “Mannequin” came in just behind the iconic “Wall Street” (26th with $43.8 million). The No. 1 film of the year was “3 Men and a Baby” with $167.7 million. Films from that year that I’ve reviewed include:
- “Adventures in Babysitting” (great youth fun) – click here for my review
- “Back to the Beach” (great Frankie & Annette) – click here for my review
- “The Big Easy” (superior crime drama) – click here for my review
- “Can’t Buy Me Love” (OK teen flick) – click here for my review
- “The Fourth Protocol” (solid espionage) – click here for my review
- “Full Metal Jacket” (outstanding Vietnam flick) – click here for my review
- “Hiding Out” (solid back-to-school drama) – click here for my review
- “Innerspace” (excellent sci-fi/action) – click here for my review
- “The Lost Boys” (excellent vampire flick) – click here to read my review
- “Maid to Order” (not bad comedy-drama) – click here for my review
- “Near Dark” (near perfect vampire flick) – click here for my review
- “No Man’s Land” (watchable Charlie Sheen) – click here for my review
- “A Prayer for the Dying” (simply awful) – click here for my review
- “Predator” (great Arnie sci-fi) – click here for my review
- “The Running Man” (really good Arnie sci-fi) – click here for my review
- “Summer School” (good light comedy) – click here for my review
Assorted cast and film notes (via IMDb.com):
- The main character was originally written to be a lonely older shopkeeper to be played by Dudley Moore. I’m glad it didn’t play out that way since it would have been even more damaging to his career than “Micki + Maude.”
- Two writers didn’t get credit for re-writing the screenplay for “Mannequin” and then got credit for writing its horrible sequel. Guess they should have stopped at “bad” while they were ahead with “Mannequin,” since their credited effort with the obnoxious sequel is nothing more than fecal matter.
- Directly from IMDb.com: “The ‘Illustra’ scenes were filmed at a real department store, Boscov’s. It easy to distinguish by the square chandeliers and neon department signs on the walls.”
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