Rating 2

Directed by Michael Gottileb

Written by Michael Gottileb and Edward Rugoff

Starring Andrew McCarthy (Jonathan Switcher), Kim Cattrall (Emmy Hasure), Carole Davis (Roxie Shield), James Spader (Mr Richards), G W Bailey (Captain Felix Maxwell), Cristopher Maher (Armand), Steve Vinovich (B J Wert) and Estelle Getty (Mrs Claire Timkin)

Jonathan Switcher goes through a succession of dead end jobs until one day a mannequin he created comes to life and his life is transformed. He finds work creating displays in a department store, but soon finds himself in conflict with his girlfriend Roxie, the store’s Vice-president Mr Richards and its officious and incompetent security guard Felix Maxwell. He falls in love with the dummy, a woman from ancient Egypt called Emahauser, who only comes to life when she can be seen by no one else but him. His displays cause a sensation and he becomes a target for the owner of a rival department store.


‘Mannequin’ is a 1987 romcom. Everything about the film screams the 1980s and that is a decade I continue to struggle with. Such an outlook makes it difficult to view a film like this with anything approaching an objective response, although as time moves on I am beginning to feel less anger about the horror of Thatcherism, perhaps because what has subsequently occurred has proved to be a kind of watered-down and deceitful version of it, which has been, if anything, even more repulsive and damaging. The film is a typical product of its time, a shallow decade of ostentatious greed that at least had its own very distinctive identity. What we are left with now, seemingly a result of that decade, is pastiche and rampant greed that has gone so far out of control there is no pulling it back.

There is not much to be said about ‘Mannequin’. It’s a silly, kitschy and, in retrospect, almost endearing film that stands the test of time as a harmless artefact of its period. Andrew McCarthy was one of the so-called “Brat Pack” and his other hit films from the era include ‘St Elmo’s Fire’ and ‘Pretty in Pink’. Fans of ‘Sex in the City’ may find some interest in the presence of Kim Cattrall in one of her earlier roles. Estelle Getty (‘The Golden Girls’) and G W Bailey (the ‘Police Academy’ films) also feature and there is a truly awful performance by James Spader.

‘Mannequin’ was not popular with critics, but it grossed nearly $43 million at the domestic box office, more than ‘Pretty in Pink’ the previous year. It is No.27 in the domestic gross list for 1987, one place behind ‘Wall Street’ and one in front of the Steve Martin and Daryl Hannah comedy ‘Roxanne’.

A sequel, ‘Mannequin: On the Move’, starring Kristy Swanson, followed in 1991.

Review posted 12 April 2010



Anonymous said...

I always suspected that the director was urging Spader to play the part broader...broader...BROADER! Only one other time in his career have I seen James go over the top. I think this performance was the fault of the director and not the actor. But I agree...I hate his performance in this film and I normally adore Spader!

alienlanes said...

Thank you for your comment. I agree. I like James Spader generally and this is a very untypical performance.