Kim Cattrall and Andrew McCarthy in Mannequin (1987)

Dummy Switcher hits Hollywood

It's funny how time and tastes change, I remember being head over heels in love with "Mannequin" when I first watched it sometime towards the end of the 80s, yet now I watch and wonder why I was such a fan as to put it kindly "Mannequin" is weak. That's not to say that "Mannequin" is a terrible movie, its fun, entertaining and whilst diabolically cheesy as it culminates to the peak of corny with the Starship ballad "Nothing gonna stop us now" it is just not as special as I once thought it to be.

Jonathan Switcher (Andrew McCarthy - Pretty in Pink) is a young artist who struggles to hold on to every job he gets, but after spotting a mannequin, he built in one of his fateful jobs, standing in a store window he gets himself a job to be near his creation. But he is shocked when one night the mannequin comes alive and turns out to be Emmy (Kim Cattrall - Big Trouble in Little China) a re-incarnation of an Egyptian Princess. Except Emmy can only come to life in just Switcher's presence making his fascination with a mannequin seem a little eccentric to other staff even to the eccentric Hollywood Montrose (Meshach Taylor). Emmy inspires Jonathan and together they design fabulous windows for the store turning the business around much to the annoyance of rival store owner B.J. Wert (Steve Vinovich) who wants to buy the business.

Meshach Taylor as Hollywood Montrose in Mannequin (1987)

After a brief set up which introduces us to the principle character of Jonathan Switcher a sculptor who struggles to hold on to a job, including one where he spends all week creating a beautiful mannequin, "Mannequin" then falls into two pretty much standard storylines. First of which is the fantasy romance between Switcher and Emmy the mannequin which miraculously comes to life when he and he alone is around which of course means love will never run smoothly as Switcher's fascination with the mannequin makes him seem a bit eccentric. The second element is the time honoured business rivalry set up where one unscrupulous business is trying to put another out of business, the sort of thing which featured in the remake of "Miracle on 34th Street". Whilst the storylines entwine quite enjoyably they are frankly not great and they are not meant to be.

The reason being is that "Mannequin" is a movie of moments, funny scenes crafted to be remembered even though the story is not. From the various moments of merriment in the deserted night time store as Switcher and Emmy have fun and fall in love, through to the flights of fancy as they ride a motorbike through town at night being chased by the unscrupulous Maxwell & Richards, they are all designed to entertain and be remembered which they succeed in doing. But it doesn't stop them from ending up quite cheesy, the unoriginal dance sequence in the store as Switcher and Emmy dress up in various costumes is almost a stock element of these 80s movies and the swimsuit scene, which is seducingly funny is still very forced and corny.

The same can be said about many of the characters, James Spader's slimy vice president Mr. Richards is as an over the top snivelling creation as you can get and G.W. Bailey as security guard Captain Felix Maxwell almost feels like a caricature of his performances in the "Police Academy" movies. Even the non visual jokes have a certain groan factor such as Maxwell's dog Rambo named such because he likes to draw first blood. There is very little about "Mannequin" which isn't corny, or at least appears to be corny now rather than when it was released.

As for the main cast well Andrew McCarthy appears in another movie because with his innocent face and charming smile he is a likable chap and as such that is what he does through out the movie, he plays the stereotypical role of being that nice amiable young man who gets audiences on his side. Opposite McCarthy is the instantly likable Kim Cattrall who is sexy and fun, but pretty much playing a female character that is a stereotype of 80s movies of a similar ilk, think Daryl Hannah in "Splash" and you will know what I mean. Whilst the pairing of McCarthy and Cattrall look good together the chemistry doesn't always work with McCarthy often coming across as seriously nervous around such a beauty.

Aside from McCarthy and Cattrall there are various familiar faces making up the ensemble of supporting cast as is often the case when you get McCarthy you also gets James Spader but you also get the delightful Estelle Getty, Carole Davis and Steve Vinovich. But the scene stealer when it comes to the supporting cast is Meshach Taylor who is completely outrageous as the over the top and seriously camp Hollywood Montrose who's screams and tantrums as well as his colourful wardrobe are a visual delight.

What this all boils down to is that "Mannequin" is yet another one of those movies which I hand fond memories of but now question why. It is fun and moderately entertaining with various heavily choreographed scenes which are memorable but also utterly corny. But what is probably most disappointing is that between the various fun scenes there is little else to make "Mannequin" that engaging as it plods through some cliche storylines.