Some critics devote themselves to the work of Kubrick; others prostrate themselves before the altar of sculptor in time Andrei Tarkovsky. This critic is making a point of revisiting the work of Kim Cattrall, and where else should one look for inspiration than 1987’s hit Mannequin? Probably best known for featuring the ubiquitous Albert Hammond-penned song Nothing’s Going To Stop Us Now by Starship, Mannequin’s reputation has fallen into disrepair, and that may well be because it’s a load of old cobblers.
Michael Gottlieb’s film feels like two ideas got smooshed together in a script meeting. We start in Ancient Egypt, where the woke Emmy (Cattrall) hides from an arranged marriage in a pyramid and wishes for some kind of salvation. An animated credits sequence suggests Emmy then lives through the centuries, Forrest Gump-style, hanging with Christopher Columbus and other historical figures, before turning up as a possessed mannequin in a Philadelphia department store and inspiring window-dresser Jonathan (Andrew McCarthy) to greatest feats of, erm, window-dressing.
Cattrall’s talents were better used elsewhere, but Mannequin’s sole suit is her generally genial performance. GW Bailey trades on his Police Academy notoriety as a store detective with a dog called Rambo, and that’s your lot for social-political commentary. There’s genuinely hideous support from James Spader as a bespectacled bean-counter and Meshach Taylor as Hollywood Melrose, in a performance so aggressively camp that even the world’s most flamboyant window-dresser might think him over the top.
With montage following on from montage, but never featuring the song you came to hear, Mannequin is about as airy-fairy a concept as might be imagined, and never uncrosses the wires of the central idea. If Emmy is an ancient Egyptian, why does she have such a keen understanding and vocabulary to describe trends that a Philadelphia department store might follow in 1987? It’s only one of a number of Sphinx-like riddles that Mannequin poses, questions which left this reviewer searching for answers, sense and something better to watch.