Sunday, 29 March 2009

Movie Review - Mannequinn

I remembered seeing this many years ago and enjoying it, and recently bought the DVD. I have to say it’s one of the best purchases I’ve ever made – this is a wonderful film. I know many critics and reviewers like to pummel it into the dirt, but it’s not meant to be taken seriously and I really enjoyed it.

Starring Andrew McCarthy as an artistic floater who can never hold down a job, this is the story about an Egyptian woman (well she doesn’t actually look Egyptian, you understand) being zapped forwards in time and into the body of the eponymous Mannequin that is the only creation McCarthy turns out in one of his short-lived jobs. Yep it’s that sort of plot. The Egyptian / Mannequin is played by a young Kim Cattral, who at that time was still sexy and actually quite sweet.

McCarthy’s fortunes take a turn for the better when he is befriended by Golden Girl Estelle Getty, who has inherited a Department Store, and who makes a Window Dresser. The Mannequin having been “acquired” and coming to life one night when he’s working late, they go on to create fabulous window displays, and these in turn start bringing the crowds back to the store. However, baddie James Spader is not happy with this – he owns the rival store over the road. Aided by Security Guard G W Bailey (who plays basically the same character as in the Police Academy series – he’s even a “Captain” here too), they try to put a stop to McCarthy’s creative skills…

There’s nothing clever or pretentious about this film, it’s just great entertainment. It’s funny in many places, from “stupid” funny to some jokes and scenes that any child watching will have no chance of understanding. (Not that it’s not suitable for kids – they just won’t get a lot of it). The characters are pretty thinly developed and either very likeable or very dislikeable. The special effects range from average to cheesy to downright bad. The acting is pretty good, with the lead couple being very sweet together, James Spader being an evil-scary baddie, Carole Davis as McCarthy’s on-off girlfriend being very easy to hope bad things happen to, and G W Bailey being… well… G W Bailey… Oh, and Meshach Taylor plays a very scary window dresser… completely OTT, fortunately not too annoying…

The set pieces have a little of the choreographed mayhem of the modern Jackie Chan films (or perhaps an ancient Keystone Cops film!), the dialogue is good, and the general feel of the film is of one that was created purely to entertain. Oh, and it has a cracking musical score, with many of the 80’s songs that I really love.

It’s one of a very rare genre of films – a modern fairytale. It’s not a retelling of a traditional fairytale (or at least if it is, not obviously so) a la “Ever After”, nor is it an “Urban Legend” like… er… “Batman”?? It’s not a romantic comedy in the traditional sense, since the lovers are together almost from the start, and then torn apart… In fact, I really can’t think of another film that really fits the definition of “Modern Fairytale” – though no doubt several people will suggest some to me soon enough.

This is one of those films that would never win any awards but that you will repeatedly enjoy watching. It’s great entertainment, not great cinema. If you want some light-hearted fun, there’s little to beat this. At the end of the day, you’re going to either love it or hate it – there’s no middle ground. I hope my review’s given you some idea which camp you’re likely to be in!!

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