Movie Review 2008 #55: Mannequin

Yes, I decided to go for a blast to the past for this 80’s movie starring a young Kim Cattrall, 80’s teen movie star Andrew McCarthy, James Spader and Estelle Getty.

I saw this movie innumerable times on TV and otherwise in the 80’s, and a re-watching shows that I still nearly know the movie by heart. Despite it being an average movie on any sort of objective grounds, its one of those movies that has gotten into my head and never left.
Cattrall plays Ema Haire, “Emmy”, an Egyptian woman who longs for a more interesting life than being married to a camel dung merchant. Granted her wish by the Gods, we later learn she appears in subsequent times and places. Where she appears now is in the body of a Mannequin painstakingly created by McCarthy. He’s a frustrated artist who can’t hold a job…until he inadvertently saves the life of a department store owner (Getty), who gives him a job in appreciation. And then he learns the mannequin he created can come to life, but only for him…
Yes, the movie has something of a Pygmalion vibe going here. There are other subplots, too, involving a takeover attempt on Getty’s company, a flamboyant artist (Meshiach Taylor), and a unhinged security guard.
The movie plays to stereotypes in a somewhat benighted 80’s manner. The only character who treats Taylor’s sexuality and love life with any sort of respect is McCarthy. The way other characters treat “Hollywood” was cringeworthy and wouldn’t work in a movie made today. An oversexed co-worker of McCarthy’s ex-girlfriend is also an exaggerated stereotype whose conduct is more than borderline sexual harassment.
Beyond that, though, the movie still was amusing, especially since I knew it by heart. Sure, there is zero character development. the direction is only okay, but the leads do a good job in their relationship to each other. And it has a funny and funky animated opening credits sequence.
If I saw this movie fresh for the first time today, I probably wouldn’t get it and wouldn’t like it, but since its part of my cultural DNA, I still have a fondness for the movie, despite its strong drawbacks and weaknesses.