Saturday, March 23, 2013

Mannequin: On The Move

Original movie poster

Well fancy seeing you all again, faithful blog followers! I am back a little faster than usual because confidentially I have been waiting to talk about this film it is absolutely one of my favorites and I can actually say that this is from my childhood. I was eight years old when the film came out and I probably didn't see it until I was nine the following year over at a playmate's house because she had it on VHS. Years later, I procured the movie on VHS myself and a few years ago became ecstatic when it joined Mannequin on a double billed DVD! Of course I'm talking about Mannequin Two or as it is also known Mannequin: On The Move. We have much to talk about or at least I do concerning this film but as always we begin with the plot which I will actually start off as...


In the kingdom of Hauptmann-Koenig, Prince William fell in love with a maiden named Jessie and of course she was an under class peasant which made William's mother not at all happy. So one day, ready to whisk Jessie off to become his wife, the prince and his peasant girl were stopped by the royal guard on the bridge out of the kingdom. Of course, William's mother arrives with her entourage including the sorcerer Spretzle and tries to talk her son out of marrying Jessie who she believes to be only a medieval gold digger and even tries to buy her off with a necklace of gold and royal jewels. William decides to use the necklace as a symbol of his eternal love for Jessie in place of a ring I guess but no sooner does he get the necklace about her neck, Jessie turns into a remarkable modern wooden statue that looks nothing like her. You see his mother had Spretzle whip up this cursed necklace so that her son couldn't marry his lower class sweetheart but after a heartfelt plea, William offers his life in place of Jessie and a catch is made to the curse: a thousand years of being frozen until a true love from another land can remove the necklace. One other catch is that the kingdom also becomes cursed to suffer never-ending thunderstorms and darkness as a side effect of the evil committed I guess? I'm also guessing since William offered his life for Jessie's his own mother had him beheaded or hung so that makes this even more tragic than I realized back then...

The tragic maiden Jessie and her prince

So here it is 1,000 years later and it is early 1990s Philadelphia which brings us back to the famed Prince & Company from the first movie. Our focus is now on its newest employee, Jason Williamson who it appears is a dead ringer descendent of Prince William (what a shock huh?) and is working under everyone's favorite flamboyant African-American gay gentleman, Hollywood Montrose (yay continuity!). It just so happens that Hollywood, now head of visual merchandising, is in charge of putting on a presentation in honor of Hauptmann-Koenig and its national treasure, The Enchanted Peasant Girl (now who could that be?) All of this is actually a plan to get the crown jewels out of the country and the mastermind behind this is Count Gunter Spretzle, the many great grandson of the sorcerer who cursed Jessie a thousand years ago. The Count also plans to be the one to remove the necklace and have Jessie all for himself but things don't go as planned when his three lackeys, a trio of beefed up morons, lose The Enchanted Peasant Girl.

When you work with Hollywood there is never a dull moment...

So our mannequin ends up in the hands of Hollywood and Jason, who just so happens to shift the cursed necklace a few times before removing it completely after fishing her out of the river. Jessie becomes alive and since she has been out of it for a couple of centuries she believes Jason is her prince and of course is sweetly smitten, totally in love with him and for only a little bit is Jason convinced he has been driven insane by toxins from river pollution. It doesn't take long for him to become captivated by Jessie's naivete and take her out on the town which includes dancing, cheese steak and then allowing her to sleep in his bed while he takes the couch. It's easy to tell Jason is in love but when he heads upstairs the next morning with a cozy breakfast made for two he discovers Jessie is once again a mannequin because it seems even though he can remove the necklace the curse is still able to work if it is placed back on (both Jason and Jessie oblivious to this fact). Heartbroken and confused, Jason returns the mannequin back to Prince & Co. and finds that even though the girl of his dreams may have been just's hardly far from over. The romance is just beginning and so are the wacky hijinks that always seem to follow a man and his mannequin but will Jason and Jessie get the fairy tale ending or will Count Spretzle succeed in making sure they stay apart?

What are Jason and Jessie going to have to face now?

 I love this movie so much and it is very hard not to want to tell you the whole plot but I just can't! I feel that this movie is another film that needs to be viewed in order to garner an honest opinion of whether you will enjoy it or not. I know that many of you fellas out there may not be open to viewing this film as the plot does seem more geared toward a female audience but there is plenty of comedy as well as a lot of Kristy Swanson for you to look at.

Oh did I forget to mention that one of my favorite femme-crush actresses is in this film? I have mentioned before that I love actress Kristy Swanson (see my blog posts about Flowers In The Attic and Deadly Friend) and this is by far my favorite role of hers. Many people believe her performance of Jessie in Mannequin 2 is bland but I think she embodies the character perfectly! I mean Jessie is a girl from 10th Century Bavaria so she is naive towards modern technology (especially video cameras) and her starry-eyed innocent affection toward Jason is real because she believes him to be her prince in the beginning but after spending time with Jason, she accepts him as himself but still believes him to be a prince nonetheless. She isn't stupid but she's only as intelligent as a young girl of 991 A.D. would have been and soon she acclimates to the 20th Century quite nicely. If you don't like the character of Jessie it really isn't Kristy Swanson's fault or even that of the writers because Swanson is a great actress providing emotion, drama and even great comedic timing and at the time she was 22 years old and had been in a handful of films.

Next let's talk about William Ragsdale as Jason Williamson/Prince William. What can I say except I absolutely adored him in this movie?! In the beginning of the film, Ragsdale has to deal with being a fairy tale prince so that does include some cheesy, romance novel dialogue but he also gets to sword fight and be quite heroic which of course will win a romantic lady like myself over in a Medieval minute! When he becomes Jason, Ragsdale shows of a guy with a sense of humor, good looks, strong morals and a even a few surprises (he can fence and really put up a fight when he needs too!) William Ragsdale seems to bring a touch of his most famous role as Charley Brewster from the original Fright Night into the character of Jason but he's just a little more wiser seeing as how Ragsdale was thirty when he appeared in Mannequin 2 but you wouldn't know by that boyish charm and that handsome face (and for a Southern boy to hide that Arkansas twang he is one fine actor!)

Since they play the romantic leading couple, I also enjoy the chemistry between Kristy Swanson and William Ragsdale. They both play off each other well when it comes to the comedy most of the time with Ragsdale as the straight man to Swanson's more quirky, clueless character. As for romance, I think it works better between Swanson and Ragsdale compared to Cattrall and McCarthy in the original Mannequin. I have no idea about how old Jessie and Jason are supposed to be (although a 30 year old still living AT HOME with his widowed mother isn't too far-fetched nowadays) but the ages of the actors is almost perfect to an extent. Jessie is a peasant girl so of course she is young, beautiful and naive even to modern standards and Jason does make a comment that he is looking for true love which he probably hasn't experienced but he knows how to cook, has a job and is mature enough that he lets Jessie have his bed for the night while he sleeps on the couch and even tells a female co-worker on his first day that they might date after getting to know each other a little better. So I hear you say he kind of rushes into a relationship with Jessie doesn't he? Well don't forget the fact that only a true love can remove the necklace and it's clear Jason is a reincarnation of his distant relation who just so happens to be Jessie's true love and that was over a thousand years ago so in context they have gotten to know each other for quite awhile! I promise I'm almost done praising Swanson and Ragsdale so we can move on but this is one reason why I love Mannequin 2 and always have because of the actor's chemistry and the romantic in me just can't get enough of it.

Kristy seems to have that mannequin thing down huh, William?

Moving along, I already praised Meshach Taylor who returns as Hollywood Montrose and the character really isn't that different except for maybe an upgrade in a more streamlined suit wardrobe splashed with color and a more Afrocentric hairstyle. Taylor is still hilarious and I am so glad they expanded the role to include more of his character in the film and of course he still gets some of the best lines and that amazing pink Cadillac of his makes a triumphant return too! Other standouts in the cast are Stuart Pankin (best known as the voice of Earl Sinclair on Dinosaurs) as the new owner/manger of Prince & Co. and actor Terry Kiser who plays Count Spretzle. Kiser's most famous role is that of Bernie from the "Weekend at Bernie's" franchise so its good to see him a role with actual dialogue (no matter how cheesy it may be) but he still retains that comedic element as an over the top villain which is perfect for a movie with a kind of fairy tale plot and being that he is a member of the famous Actors Studio, it shows in every inch of his performance.

Terry Kiser as Count Spretzle, master swordsman

Another thing that I love about Mannequin 2 is the music and if there was a soundtrack released for this movie consider it the Holy Grail among Mannequin 2's very loyal fan base. Of course, the theme from the original Mannequin Starship's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" makes a return at the end credits for another connection to make this a sequel and is not that hard to find but the rest of the songs...oh boy!! Now there are a few tracks that can be found on YouTube such as "Feel The Way I Do" by Shoes and "Pick Up The Pieces To My Heart" by Cindy Valentine but the rest of the soundtrack features an artist named Gene Miller who I can find any information on and I have Googled him thousands of times! He performs the opening song "Wake Up", another song titled "Do It For Love" and a beautiful cover version of the Air Supply song "Can't Believe My Eyes" that I swear I would sell my soul to the devil to own it! For a soundtrack to an early 90s flick, it is quite carbon-dated but it is also amazing and if you ever did happen to chance upon it at a swap meet or something...PLEASE GRAB IT AND MAIL IT TO ME!! (Sorry I yelled but I am serious about the mailing it to me comment...)

So is Mannequin 2 as bad as other people say it is? No but again it's just my own personal opinion and of course, the nine year old in me could never stand to hate this movie or change my opinion of it nor will thirty year old me. (which I will be in May) For first time viewers (especially men) it may be a piece of aged cheese that could do with a good air freshener chaser but after a few more viewings the comedy or romance may just rub off on you and you may come to love it as much as I do.

NEXT TIME: I'm gonna take a break from talking about films with sequels but I am still going to look back at upbeat movies of my nostalgic childhood (okay nostalgic teenage childhood too). In my next blog watch me tackle the appropriately titled 80s classic...Teen Witch.

Friday, March 22, 2013


Hello again followers I am back! Now I said that I was going to return with more family-oriented films but I decided to at least focus on films that are a little more light-hearted and not necessarily just children's films from my childhood so I am starting with a film that has a sequel since I was talking about movie trilogies and franchises to begin with. The format may be a little different but sometimes change is good so here it goes. Pardon me if I'm rusty my hiatus was a lot longer than I expected...

Back in 1987, when I was just a little thing of three soon to be four, a film came out and it took me a long time to locate it I will confess. You see I saw this film's sequel first when it came out in the early 90's (which we will talk about very soon) and I had to see the original film...Mannequin. Now I have heard many people talk about this film in a positive way and in a negative "oh my god this film is awful!" way and I would have to say I am about 50/50 on the take of this film. Why you ask? well let's just begin as we always do...

What's The Plot?
In the city of Edfu (real or not I can't guess?) in Ancient Egypt, Ema "Emmy" Hesire is I am guessing a princess or at the most a lady of nobility engaged to be married not by her own choice of course to a camel dung dealer which I can see why she isn't very enthused. Like most of us women in fantasy films we want a little more and so she prays to the Gods to get her out of this and her mother mentions what we are thinking "The gods have better things to worry about than you!". Apparently, they don't so Emmy vanishes in a swirl of dirt and lightning and we soon find ourselves in modern day 1987 Philadelphia and you can kind of already see where the plot is going with Emmy but now we focus on Jonathan Switcher.

Jonathan is an aspiring sculptor/artist who can't seem to hold down a regular job. He loses his most current job working at a ( wait for it!) mannequin manufacturer because he takes six days to create a work of art instead of just putting together a piece of plastic. Every other job after that he fails miserably in keeping and it frustrates his girlfriend Roxie to no end her being a snotty, stuck up career girl who works in a department store which I guess makes her better than him? So Roxie dumps Jonathan, it starts to rain and Jonathan goes off with his suddenly dead motorcycle in this downpour until a flash of lightning shows his mannequin masterpiece in the window of Prince & Company, an older upscale department store in the vein of Macy's.

Some guys have all the luck!!

Knowing that she is the only thing he has ever really created with actual time and love, Jonathan decides to get a job at Prince & Co. to be closer to her (creepy?) and he only succeeds because the next morning he saves the store's owner, a nice older woman named Claire Timkin, from being crushed by a sign advertising the store's 100th anniversary. Getting work as a stock boy, Jonathan finds himself introduced to a cast of characters with the snotty Vice President Richards, night time security guard Felix still living delusions of fighting on Omaha Beach and flamboyant, camp gay stereotypical window dresser Hollywood Montrose.

Helping out Hollywood on a window display, Jonathan finds his mannequin and when the other man leaves, she comes alive and surprise it's Emmy! Apparently, she's been stopping off in various periods of time trying to find the right one in which to find love and pursue her own dreams such as flying. A little shocked at first and almost believing he has gone insane, Jonathan soon finds a creative muse and equal in Emmy when she helps him create window displays of moving mannequins, flashy clothes and avant garde style in time-capsuled late 80s flair. The only catch is that Emmy becomes alive in front of Jonathan but to everyone else she is just a dummy which puts a little bit of a kink in what eventually becomes a relationship of love between them.

When word of Jonathan's displays reach word to Roxie over at rival department store Illustra and her boss, the egotistical and smarmy B.J. Wert, they plan to bring Jonathan over to crush and buy out Prince & Co. When Jonathan's loyalty can't be swayed away from his friends he has found in Mrs. Timkin and Hollywood and the love of Emmy which has brought about his dream of creativity to life the real hilarity and drama begins.

Some things never change did you really think I was going to spoil everything for you? Most of you have probably seen Mannequin and if you haven't you know it is out on DVD with its sequel right?

Non-Plot Elements We Can Discuss:

Andrew McCarthy as Jonathan Switcher is of course cute and funny in the fourth film of his career about the time after his big Brat Pack film role as Blaine in Pretty In Pink. McCarthy has great comedic timing and I love to see him smile when other actors attempt comedy because I can never tell if it is scripted or because he is just trying so hard not to laugh! As for the more romance side of the romantic comedy coin, Andrew McCarthy tries his hardest but I find that I just don't see any real connection between his character and Kim Cattrall as Emmy I mean it's sort of sweet but I saw more chemistry between Andrew McCarthy and Molly Ringwald in their Pretty In Pink characters than I did in this film. He was about 24-25 when this film was made so for someone that age McCarthy's acting is top notch and his character of Jonathan I guess would be the same age so he might not have a problem with adult feelings like romance maybe it's just the fact that he is romancing an older woman from Ancient Egypt that makes me not feel the chemistry.

Andrew "Teen Dream" McCarthy

Kim Cattrall will always be to most people Samantha from Sex And The City but back in the 80s she was feisty and fiery in films like Police Academy and one of my personal favorites John Carpenter's Big Trouble In Little China. As Emmy in Mannequin, Kim Cattrall seems to be quite energetic and bubbly being a person introduced to the wonders of the 20th century as you would figure but if she was from Ancient Egypt wouldn't she be a little more demure and maybe a lot more ethnic looking? I'm not saying they should have typecast somebody in the role but I have bought a whole bunch of other actors as being from Ancient Egypt a lot more with a grain of salt than Kim Cattrall. Now I know she can act because I've seen it but in Mannequin, Kim falls a little flat for me. She has the innocence thing for being naive to modern culture and she is quite sexy because basically no mannequin that came to life would be ugly but there is just something that throws me off...oh I remember it's that chemistry/romance thing!

Nice hat, Kim Cattrall!

I know I keep bringing that up but being the romantic that I am who ends up rooting for fictional couples like crazy has to see that chemistry if not between the "characters" then at least between the actors portraying them. When Mannequin was made, Kim Cattrall was thirty-one years old and I know to some people an older woman/younger man combination is hot but when it makes me look back at the plot for this film, just how old is Emmy supposed to be having her family arrange a marriage for her? Also it seems that Jonathan's girlfriend Roxie is older than him so does that mean Jonathan has a thing for older women? The mannequin he makes that soon becomes the body for Emmy does seem to look a bit more mature in age now that I think about it...*creepy*

Our supporting cast.

Moving right along, Mannequin also has a very good supporting cast. Estelle Getty, out of her older make-up to have her be the most senior of The Golden Girls, is very likeable and loveable as Claire Timkin. She brings that role the some touch she did to Sophia Petrillo where she is funny and tough but you still want her to be the grandmother you want to just hug to bits when she comes to visit. James Spader of course is doing what he does best in being the villain but his role of VP Richards is a little less smarmy and sinister and more comedic and pompous and being that he was 27 years old at the time shows what a great actor he is because the year before he was portraying Steff, the high school antagonist of Pretty In Pink (also alongside Andrew McCarthy I might add). G.W. Bailey as Felix and actor Christopher Maher, who plays Armand, a foreign co-worker of Roxie's, are also quite hilarious but the supporting actor who takes the cake and deserved so much more screen time is Meshach Taylor as Hollywood Montrose.

A lot of films don't really know how to handle gay characters and make them incredibly campy and where it may offend some people to make a stereotype the comic relief, Meshach Taylor's portrayal of Hollywood Montrose is just awesome! He is a flamboyant, gay black man of style and when the actor playing you is a straight as an arrow theater actor given a chance to shine and steal the show away from the main characters so much that his character is the only one to appear in the know that stereotypes don't hurt all films. Meshach Taylor's comedic timing is spot on and he has some of the best lines in the films not to mention the best wardrobe for a late 80's gay man to have and a pink freaking Cadillac! I will admit right now that Hollywood Montrose is my favorite character from Mannequin and if I could meet Meshach Taylor right now I would bow at his feet.

Montrose, Hollywood Montrose...doesn't it just sing?!

 Another thing I can say I like about Mannequin is the songs in the movie (not really sure if there was a soundtrack released for Mannequin now that I think of it). Of course if you don't know the song "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now"by Starship is from this film you have to have been under a rock or in a coma since 1985 as it is a lite rock radio staple and bad karaoke duet choice for millions. Other songs of note are the opening song : "In My Wildest Dreams" by Belinda Carlisle and the song "Do You Dream About Me" by forgotten 80s pop star Alisha which plays during one of the better parts of the film that really shows off Andrew McCarthy's and Kim Cattrall's comedic stylings which is where they play off on each other really well and even emphasizes their charismatic good looks.

So basically I do like Mannequin for at times the romance does work, the comedy aspects of the film are quite hilarious but the fantasy angle that drives the plot to me is kind of weak. The actors do well with what they are given, Hollywood Montrose is the best character in the whole film and the music is enjoyable for those who miss the pop of the 80s. Would I recommend the movie to anyone? Women. I'm not sure any straight man could sit through this film but I'm not saying a gay man could either but they might. I would probably recommend it to older college aged girls but I think for a Throwback Thursday sleepover or Rewind Weekend slumber party high school girls could enjoy watching it even with their mom or older sister.

NEXT TIME: We stick to the sequel formula for a just a bit longer I promise! Can't talk about Mannequin without taking a look at its partial sequel... Mannequin Two: On The Move