'Mannequin Two' never comes to life

May 21, 1991|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Sun Film Critic

"Mannequin Two: On the Move" isn't on the move at all; it's dead as a stump.

A meek clone of a yet meeker original -- "Mannequin", starring Andrew McCarthy, the boney wimp who spritzed to some minor fame during "St. Elmo's Fire's" 15 minutes -- it features William Ragsdale in the McCarthy role. He's prettier but equally as insignificant. And just as boney.

Kim Cattrall, so minor she made McCarthy look major, has been replaced by a cheerful blonde named Kristy Swanson, who looks exactly as you would imagine someone named "Kristy Swanson" to look. And that happens to be good.

The plot is the same, only dumber. A mannequin in a Philadelphia department store -- actually an enchanted Bavarian princess who's spent a thousand years modeling clothes in a drafty castle -- comes magically to life when a young assistant removes her necklace. Ragsdale is the assistant and Swanson is the enchanted peasant girl, though imagine how much more amusing the movie would have been if they had switched wardrobes and roles!

Much of the movie -- as was the first -- is basically a steal from "Splash," involving the young woman's befuddlement by but rapid adjustment to '90s culture. But where Daryl Hannah found all America summed up in an hour of TV, poor Swanson learns all about us in one bite of Philadelphia cheese steak with onions. Now I know they're good, but isn't this a going a bit far?

The usual suspects put in an appearance, including the pompous store manager, the nosy mother, and the obnoxious old-country wizard, who wants the back-to-life cutie for himself. He's played by Terry Kiser who was amusing as a corpse in "Weekend at Bernie's." This is one of those cases where an actor may literally be said to have been better off dead.

Having taken every possible cheap shot so far, I will avoid the cheap shot of claiming that Swanson the dummy is more fun than Swanson the young woman. Swanson the young woman is the one redeeming aspect of entire piffling enterprise. The dummy is just a dummy.

'Mannequin Two: On the Move'

Starring Kristy Swanson and William Ragsdale.

Directed by Stewart Raffill.

Released by Twentieth Century Fox.

Rated PG.

... **

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