Jonathan Switcher is a true artist who just can’t seem to hold down a job. That is until his most prized creation (a beautiful mannequin) shows up in a store window. This begins his wild ride as a top display window creator. (Oh and also the mannequin comes alive only for him and he’s in love with it.) Can they stop the dastardly rival store before it’s too late? Find out in… Mannequin.
How?! Jonathan Switcher just crafted his masterpiece. A paragon of artistic achievement. A mannequin? Wha-wha-whaaaa. While he can’t get his bodacious mannequin out of his head, he also can’t hold down a job due to his artistic vision. Wandering the streets, no job, no girlfriend, no hope he suddenly happens upon his mannequin queen in the window of a store. Oh, glorious day! He shows up the next day and through some quick thinking he gets on the good side of the owner of the store. She insists he get a job and soon he’s working alongside the mannequin herself. What a dream! And what’s even more fantastic is that the mannequin also turns out to be a cursed Egyptian princess, Emmy, who comes alive when Jonathan and her are alone (not making this up). Now they are rocking out together and totally in love, not to mention that Jonathan has found his true calling as a display window creative. Soon he’s the talk of the town and the crosstown rivals, who are also hoping to buy their store, are ready to swipe Jonathan away. With the help of his ex-girlfriend and the smarmy manager of the store, they are able to figure out that the mannequin is the key to it all. They swipe Emmy and Jonathan and his pals are soon in hot pursuit. It’s a classic 80’s action sequence that ends with Jonathan rescuing Emmy from an industrial shredder. As a result Emmy no longer is cursed to only be alive for Jonathan and everyone is like “Woah, that lady was a mannequin but now she’s just a hot alive person,” and Emmy and Jonathan smooch a bunch. THE END.
Why?! Love, and that’s not even a joke. While I like to compare the film to the ludicrousness of Weekend at Bernie’s, that film was much closer to the greed-is-goodness of the 80’s ideal. This is all about Emmy not being forced to marry and instead find true love. Now the bad guys… those guys are just about greed being good.
Who?! There is an interesting Producer aspect to this film. Joseph Farrell was an executive producer. At the time he was the founder and chief executive of NRG, the original market testing firm in Hollywood. He basically created the focus group. Apparently he stepped in on this film to prove that the method really worked and made significant changes (hiring McCarthy was one). Despite it being BMT it was a big success and got us Mannequin 2: On the Move. So thank you, Joseph Farrell.
What?! Unfortunately Emmy herself is the MacGuffin here. Everyone wants and needs her, but the audiences could care less about that. They just want them sweet smooches between Emmy and Jonathan. I also do believe this was the one where Patrick and I spied a Dunkin Donuts coffee in the background of a scene and exclaimed “Mannequin runs on Dunkin” and it was pretty great.
Where?! You can read articles online where people suggest this is one of the substantial Philly settings of all time. The gist of the argument is that Mannequin really does take you around Philly and reiterate the setting of Philly and celebrate Philly to an extent that you just don’t see very often. Obviously it’s not going to compete with Rocky, but it is a surprisingly strong setting film/franchise. B+.
When?! I really would have thought this could have been a secret holiday film cause everyone knows that the holidays are prime display window season. The rival company could have been all like “We need him, Christmas is just around the corner,” and that would have done. But the real issue is that I just don’t really remember if there was a specific time mentioned… and I blame the movie itself by not setting it during Christmas. F.
Mannequin is pleasant enough once you get past the set up. It opens with a totally unnecessary and poorly acted scene set in “ancient Egypt” in order to set up the (also totally unnecessary) plot point that Emmy is an Egyptian princess trapped in the mannequin’s body until she is able to find true love. They should have learned a thing or two from Xanadu and just rolled with Emmy being alive because of the power of art/love or whatever. But beyond that it’s just a silly farce a la Weekend at Bernie’s. Similar to that film it really mostly suffers by reputation. When your concept is that a man falls in love with a mannequin who comes to life only when they are alone (a concept that would likely be frowned upon by today’s standards), you are playing a bit behind the eight ball… much like if, you know, you came up with a film where a couple of dopes have to pretend their boss is alive for a weekend and parade around with his corpse… kinda like that. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Mannequin? What, does this Mannequin not even know how to move? Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – I think the most startling thing was realizing that despite no one mentioning this fact, the mannequin is actually from ancient Egypt. I had just figured she was, you know … a magic mannequin or something. But then only Leonard Maltin talks about the whole beginning in Egypt. Still totally different than the set up to the sequel, but a lot closer than most of the preview would suggest. What were my expectations? I only really expected Kim Cattrall to be amazing as usual. Otherwise I was excited for (1) a dance sequence, and (2) just how 80s everything was going to be. So I knew I would at least be entertained by that.
The Good – Kim Cattrall is, as expected, very charming in the film, and mostly saves it from just being forgettable 80s nonsense. The way they play into the silliness of the concept is also very winning, and Hollywood Montrose as a character might be offensive by some standards these days, but I think it ends up being the right tone of ridiculousness. That isn’t to say the film works because the plot is nonsensical, but there are good performances, and it is less self-serious than one might think going into it. Best Bit: Kim Cattrall.
The Bad – It feels like Spader and Carole Davis were in a totally different movie, the aforementioned self-serious Mannequin … which now that I think about, I’ll definitely be writing a pitch for in the later Remake section. I think the major strike against the film is that it is virtually plotless. A guy can’t hold down a job, ends up finding a magic mannequin … uh, I guess he foils the B-plot of a takeover of a Philadelphia department store? Wait, is that actually the plot of the film? See, it slides off your brain like water off of a mannequin’s slick exterior. Fatal Flaw: Nothing story.
The BMT – I think this film is better than it has any right to be. And I think given the second film, it ends up being far more enjoyable that you would think given that as context. As far as BMT is concerned, this is exactly the type of film you forget actually qualified until one day you check Rotten Tomatoes and it is sitting at 40% and no longer qualifies. Then you thank god for giving you the instinct to watch the film while it was still considered bad. Did it meet my expectations? The dance sequence is b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-bonkers, and makes the movie worth watching just for that. Well … I guess in reality it makes it worth finding that specific clip on Youtube. Still, so very very 80s.
Roast-radamus – Some solid Product Placement (What?) with Mannequin running on Dunkin’ (Donuts), and Carnival Cruises doing one of the window displays at the department stores (uh, big pull for a down-on-its-luck department store to get their window display sponsored by Carnival, but whatever). Really nice Setting as a Character (Where?) for Philadelphia. Which is bigger for Philadelphia, the Mannequin Cinematic Universe, or Rocky? Let the debate rage. In the end I think this is closest to Good.
Sequel, Prequel, Remake – I already mentioned it, I’m doing the gritty Remake of the Mannequin franchise. Jonathan Switcher is a happy-go-lucky artist creating ou-of-this-world mannequin creations for local department store Prince & Company in 80s Philadelphia. He has a wonderful life and a wonderful wife and couldn’t be happier. That is, up until the eeeevil Richards, a corporate raider hell bent on owning Prince & Company once and for all, sends thugs to work Switcher over and accidentally kills his beloved wife Emmy! Descending into madness and grief Switcher goes to the department store and fashions an exact replica of Emmy from the mannequin displays, and as he prays to god to take him and return Emmy, she … comes alive? He’s horrified, but maybe, just maybe this is a sign. He asks Emmy who killed her and she reveals it was Richards! His old nemesis did this! Hell bent on vengeance, Switcher and Mannequin Emmy take out Richards’ thugs, and work their way up to a showdown at Richards’ corporate headquarters. As Switcher shoots down Richards in cold blood he turns to his lady love to find her to be a mannequin once more. Was it all in his head? Or did the vengeance release her restless soul from its terrestrial prison? You’ll have to wait for the sequel to find out. Now called The Mannequin.