|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...
ONCE UPON A TIME...
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 that...it'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.