A struggling artist who lands a job as a department store window designer falls in love with a beautiful, realistic-looking mannequin who just so happens to be a reincarnated Egyptian princess.
Emmy (Kim Catrall) is from 3000BCE and she wants to see the world and do awesome things. Her mom just wants her to get married. They have a big argument in a temple, and the gods reward Emmy by setting her unstuck in time, kicking off a cartoon introduction of her bopping around throught the centuries to 80s pop. I don't know how this became a thing but Netflix keeps sending me movies with cartoon intros now, I'm starting to like it. She bounces through time as a series of inanimate objects who are alive only to the person that made them, I guess? Somehow Christopher Columbus is one of those people; they don't put a lot of effort into making it make sense, and honestly, it's fine. Be silly, silly romcom. Be as silly as you want. I guess that's the gods granting the mother's wish too -- Emmy's going to be stuck with one guy one way or another. Maybe Columbus carved a sexy figurehead that turned into Kim Catrall.
In the far-flung future of 1987, Jonathan Switcher is a sculptor working in a mannequin factory, who spends weeks on the perfect wooden lady. Since he's supposed to be turning them out by the day rather than by the month, he gets fired. He goes on to lose many other jobs; his passion for craft just isn't appreciated anywhere. He catches a lucky break when he saves a department-store owner, Claire Timkin (Estelle Getty) from getting crushed in an accident, and she gets him a stockboy job at her struggling old business, Prince and Co. His mannequin is there! He goes to reminisce at it one evening, and it springs to life! and they have a nice long talk about how he's not crazy and in the morning they have designed an attention-getting window treatment. Emmy and Jon become artistic collaborators and suddenly the store is getting customers again -- yeah this town is so boring that department store windows can draw crowds. To my surprise, they actually back this plot up with some really ingenious decoration skills. Emmy is alive whenever Jon's the only one who can see her, so he spends a lot of time smuggling her around the store and having to pretend he's talking to himself. No one is fooled. A rival department store starts creeping around trying to steal Jon, but he is loyal as balls to Ms. Timkin. You don't turn your back on a Golden Girl. Hijinks and corporate espionage ensue. Jon's erstwhile girlfriend, Roxy, works there, and she is first concerned, and then appalled, by Jon's burgeoning relationship with his favorite dummy.
Jon's other main ally is Hollywood (Mesach Taylor) another window designer at the store -- he's unfortunately a cringe-inducingly clownish stereotype of an 'artsy' gay man and it makes me want to apologize for the Eighties, even though it's not like I was in charge of them. I was alive and I didn't burn everything down forever, sorry for that, world of today. Sorry for so much. But anyway, he's an awesome supportive friend and he doesn't judge even though it's clear to everyone at the store that their star designer is sneaking around making out with a mannequin in all the back rooms. They're all very protective of their new champion, but not too protective to eavesdrop.
It's not great, but this thing is way more entertaining than I expected -- it's just so goofy and random. I only distantly remember Andrew McCarthy as playing the rich kid from Pretty In Pink. He didn't get to really be a character in that one, just this object of desire who kind of sucked, so I expected him to suck in this. He doesn't -- he's playing a daffy, head-in-the-clouds romantic surrounded by similarly cartooney people, and he does it with applaudable openness. I feel pretty bad for Roxy though -- she ends up taking a lot of shit for someone whose only sin was being a bit too ambitious. Yes, she does try to feed Emmy into an industrial shredder in a fit of spite, but come on, she was made of wood at the time.
James Spader plays a weaselly manager spying for RivalStoreCo.; thankfully he is thoroughly concealed in a terrible haircut and stagey affectations, so my Spaderphobia wasn't too big a distraction. (Something about the shape of his head makes my organs try to climb out of my body.)
Netflix Arranger Pattern Matching: James Spader, cartoon intro