St John Karp

Ramblings of an Ornamental Hermit

“Mannequin: On the Move” (1991)

Mannequin: On the Move title card.

Tonight we bask in the camp, logic-defying glory of Mannequin: On the Move, a sequel to a 1987 movie I’ve never seen. It haemorrhaged cash at the box office and garnered some truly bleak ratings from critics, and yet… I don’t know how to break this to you but it’s kind of amazing. Parker and I have watched enough movies that tried to be goofy but wound up being humourless slogs (see Theodore Rex), so it’s refreshing to find a movie that’s not only funny, it’s gay as hell too. I mean it’s really gay. Like, you won’t believe how gay this movie is. RuPaul won’t watch this movie because it’s so damn gay. How can a movie about a bloke smooching mannequins possibly work in enough camp material to appease the homosexicals, you ask? Well read on…

A fantasy-style queen. No, not that kind, I mean an actual queen.

Welp, we found Parker early on in this movie. And that’s not me talking, Parker said it first.

In the tenth century in a fictional country called Hauptmann-Koenig some feckless prince is eloping with some feckless peasant girl. Despite the fact that washing machines have yet to be invented, everything she owns is freshly laundered. This is pretty common in movies, and it’s always my favourite hobby to spot the old-timey pirate with brand new boots or the pre-industrial fantasy kingdom where they miraculously invented the teeth-whitening strip before the steam engine.

The queen disapproves of “mixed marriages”, which these days would mean like Harry and Meghan but in this case refers to a royal marrying a peasant. So still like Harry and Meghan.

Blah blah curse, blah blah true love. Listen, you’re not here for the plot, okay? Basically she puts on this necklace and turns into a shop-window dummy. Cut to 1,000 years later and it’s the present day.

Hollywood Montrose coaches his dancers.
“Give me cheekbones or give me death.”

And we have this rather fabulous character who is a department store’s resident… person. It’s not clear what he does. He just is.

The department store is hosting an exhibit from Hauptmann-Koenig that includes the mannequin of the feckless peasant girl.

Three hunky men doing a funky dance.
“My, haven’t we been hoarding the steroids!”

The mannequin is being escorted by a count with a giant hairy mole and a trio of thick (in every sense) German bodybuilders, who for no apparent reason strip off in the street and do a funky dance until two lesbians driving a garbage truck scoop them up and dump them in with the rest of the trash.

The three hunks have switched to 80s workout gear.

The three Germans spend the entire rest of the movie in these skimpy 80s workout clothes, but despite a solid hour and a half of searching with a magnifying glass I was completely unable to find the nipples on the guy in the red singlet. Was he born without them? Like was he hatched out of an egg? Or did they just paint over them because that would have been a little bit too scandalous? I, for one, am taking a stand against these unrealistic body standards where we can all just pretend like men aren’t supposed to have nipples. It’s an insidious evil started by the Ken doll and perpetuated by nippleless beefcake in movies like this. Nipples are an integral part of the male bosom and I won’t have them spirited away by those goons and thugs in the Hollywood PC mafia.

The gross count from Hauptmann-Koenig.

Aaaand I guess we’ve found me in this movie — the extremely camp villain with the nice cravats and a massive, hairy mole on his cheek. It’s fun to see that they do nearly every mole/wart joke a solid ten years before Austin Powers does the same thing.

The mannequin in a cafe.

The peasant girl encounters the descendant of her prince from 1,000 years ago who, after a lot of futzing around and wacky hijinks, eventually realises that if he takes the necklace off her she becomes human again, and if he puts it on she turns back into a mannequin. Of course they get together in the end, but not before the bloke’s mum catches him smooching the mannequin like a cut-price sex doll. Don’t judge him, the real ones are expensive. Sometimes you gotta make do with an expressionless, pasty, wooden clothes horse in designer outfits. Meghan sure did.

The Skinny

A viking with deflated horns.
Haven’t I seen you storming a capitol somewhere?

“Go ahead, laugh and have fun, my little stoopid Americans.”

Yes, the central plot is worthless schmaltz, but it’s couched in so much camp goodness that the story doesn’t matter. You swing from one scene to the next with wild abandon never knowing what new, over-the-top ridiculousness is going to happen next. There’s something so much fun in seeing the swishiest character in the film dress up in army gear and call himself “Butch”, and that’s it, I think — the charisma of the actors really carries this. Everyone’s here to have a good time. The script is genuinely funny and laden with gay innuendo, and the actors are loving every second of it. So am I, for that matter. It’s a level of gay representation and fanservice that I haven’t seen in anything else prior to Queer as Folk breaking the seal on gay sexuality, so enjoy it for the stoopid fun it is.