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'Mannequin' (PG)

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
February 13, 1987

"Mannequin" is a movie made by, for and about dummies. This lowest-common-denominator, consumer-age comedy concerns a window dresser's after-hours affair with a department store dummy (actually a feminist mummy sent forward in time by Egyptian gods, if the truth be known). She turns into a real woman only in her lover's arms, but is struck insensate when eyeballed by others.

Kim Cattrall of "Police Academy" plays the living doll, opposite Andrew McCarthy of "Pretty in Pink." We see the young artist fail at several menial jobs -- including a stint in a mannequin factory -- before he lands a job with Prince & Co., a conservative emporium that is resisting a hostile takeover by glitzy crosstown rival Illustra. But with the magical mannequin's inspiration (much as Matisse was inspired by striped curtains), McCarthy's window artistry astounds shoppers and attracts the media. But Illustra's evil CEO isn't about to give up so easily.

You could say the plot thickens, but that would be overstating things in this simple-minded, screwball love story. Basically, Boy meets fiberglass Girl, regains his confidence and makes hundreds of costume changes for the inevitable music-video sequence ("Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" by Starship). Ain't it the '80s dream come true? Meeting in Men's Furnishings; developing a relationship in Better Dresses; making love in Lingerie. And for director Michael Gottlieb, there are those nifty chase scenes -- lotsa tangle-footed security guards chasing the lovers through racks of Korean-made slacks.

Andrew McCarthy, as innocuous as blow-dried hair, is a cut above other tepid teen hunks of the '80s, and does no harm to the environment in his romps with Cattrall, the overtly pert semi-bombshell. The supporting cast of caricatures includes "Golden Girl" Estelle Getty as the spunky oldster who owns Prince & Co., "Pretty in Pink's" James Spader as a snotty preppy, G.W. Bailey as a redneck cop with a bulldog named Rambo, and Meshach Taylor as a swishy window dresser. Broadly acted and badly directed, the cast never clicks and the gags fall flat. (Or, they stoop to dog flatulence.)

This is a movie made for one-stop shoppers -- is it only a movie, or are we still in the mall? It's obvious that more important questions were on the minds of first-time cowriters Gottlieb and executive producer Edward Rugoff, who says in the press kit that "writing a screenplay was a way to become a film producer."

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