Special Features

Someone Should Make: A Gender-Reversed Mannequin Sequel or Remake

Mannequin is a 1987 movie about a department store display window designer (Andrew McCarthy) falling in love with one of his mannequins when she (Kim Cattrall) suddenly comes to life. The catch? She can only take human form when they’re alone together. Whenever anyone else comes along she reverts right back to being a mannequin, which results in plenty of “No, I swear she was just here”/”Oh, honey, you need to get out more” jokes.

By virtue of its soundtrack, particularly the closing Starship song “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” and the way it seemed to be in steady rotation on HBO in the late 80s, if you are of a certain age you absolutely know and likely love or hate this movie. If not, it might still hold some appeal, at least as a time capsule of the 80s and a peek into a time when gay characters on film used to look like this:

Hollywood MannequinOf course, as was so often the way with hits from the 80s there was a sequel which people didn’t like nearly as much and tend to forget about now. 1991’s Mannequin 2: On The Move repeats the first film’s central formula, with William Ragsdale stepping in as the guy and a pre-Buffy the Vampire Slayer Kristy Swanson taking over as the mannequin. McCarthy and Cattrall are nowhere to be found, and the only connection to the first film is Meshach Taylor returning as Hollywood. Plus, this time around the mannequin is really a peasant girl suffering under a thousand year curse which is deactivated whenever you take her necklace off.

Honestly, it’s been years since I’ve seen the movie, but the How Did This Get Made? podcast people (Paul Scheer, his wife June Diane-Raphael, Jason Mantzoukas and guest host Steve Agee) checked it out recently. June, an actress you might know from Grace and Frankie, actually has several screenwriting credits to her name (Ass Backwards, Bride Wars), and she argued there was no compelling reason to actually make another Mannequin movie without the original stars unless they switched the genders. Why not make it about a female department store employee who falls in love with a male mannequin who comes to life?

As she explained, she loves the first Mannequin, but there’s something about the way the sequel continues to play to the male fantasy which she finds a tad upsetting. Are males subconsciously drawn to the notion of a perfectly still, completely silent, physically perfect woman who only becomes animated when they are around? You got away with that in the first movie because there was something about McCarthy which seemed so innocent and inoffensive, and Cattrall was such a compelling presence, even though she’s now pretty clearly a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. However, there’s no such chemistry and charisma in the sequel. If they’d switched the gender roles they could have made a far more interesting movie.

Initially, June’s suggestion was met with jokes from her fellow hosts, mostly riffs on what they’d call it, either “Male-equin” or “Manneqhim.” However, as their conversation progressed they collectively became convinced that a gender-switched Mannequin movie is not actually a bad idea. They even threw out casting suggestions, like Zac Efron as the Male-quin and either someone super obvious like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt‘s Titus Burgess as Hollywood or someone totally unexpected like Hannibal Buress as Hollywood.

They weren’t entirely sure who’d play the girl, although they liked the idea of Kim Cattrall reprising her original role, parlaying her infamy into some sort of career as a department store maven (or something) and now getting to experience the whole thing from the opposite side of the equation. I’d alternately throw out Fifty Shades of Grey‘s Dakota Johnson as a possibility, with maybe Cattrall and/or McCarthy around for a cameo.

Get on this, Hollywood. A gender-reversed Mannequin movie, either sequel or remake? I’d watch that. What about you?

Of course, Mannequin will probably just end up being remade as a Disney Channel Original Movie with someone from Girls Meet World as the star.

Cue Mannequin montage scene:

Source: How Did This Get Made?


  1. Mmmm…nope. Because what worked so well about the first Mannequin wasn’t actually the love story, it was the examination of the creator. I like the movie because it deals with a main character who just can’t help but being creative, taking time to create something unique instead of something fast and generic. When she was his muse and I got to see all the creative things he created, that’s when the movie shined. And back then, when everyone went for hip and modern, it was a kind of important message. But nowadays, individuality is priced over everything else, people love to indulge in their nostalgia and crave to own the special above the thing everyone else has. Changing the gender of the main characters would just be yet another Pygmalion story, with all the creepy undertones in it.

    1. So you’re saying there’s nothing interesting at all about making the same basic movie but have the muse of the central creator be a male instead of a female?

      1. I don’t think that a simple gender-bend is enough for a remake. I think that the creator itself needed to be updated, too. If a writer has an angle for that then yes, this can be updated…Pygmalion is after all one of the most basic stories, told in a number of variation, from the classic Greek version over ETA Hoffmann and My Fair Lady up to yes, Mannequin. But I don’t think a Mannequin is the right vessel for the muse. Nowadays people create mostly in the internet. Though maybe the Mannequin the muse should be a character created by computer this time around, and perhaps the creator someone who is designing a game. And the movie should not be about the celebrating creativity, but about the responsibility of the creator. But a movie like this wouldn’t be a remake of Mannequin, it would be a new version of Pygmalion…I am all for that, though.

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