Monday, December 21, 2009

Making Mr. Right (Susan Seidelman, 1987)

A film rife with enough quirky actresses to fill a mid-size sedan, fishnet stockings in every other frame, and uncircumcised android cock,* Making Mr. Right is a delightfully offbeat romantic comedy from director Susan Seidelman that repeatedly asks the question: Can love flourish naturally between a woman and a machine without it seeming perverted and sad? Now that may seem like a weird question for a film to being asking on a regular basis. But don't worry, the question is barely audible. Besides, this film's temperament so lighthearted and fancy-free, that you probably won't even realize that you've just watched an intelligent woman get swept off her yummy feet by a floppy-haired space mannequin with a detachable head for at least a couple of hours after it's over. Even by then, you'll still feel as if you've just witnessed something uniquely funny and stylistically exceptional. I know I sure did. The sight of John Malkovich playfully chewing on Ann Magnuson's contraceptive diaphragm sums up the former quite nicely, and the chic precision of Miss Magnuson's fantastic wardrobe does an adequate job describing the essence of the latter. Taking every (heterosexual) woman's innate desire to create the perfect man and advancing it to the next level, the film wanders purposefully through a month in the life of Miami, Florida resident Frankie Stone (Ann Magnuson), a public relations expert who finds herself put in charge of shaping the public image of Ulysses (John Malkovich), a state-of-the-art android (one that is intended for deep space travel) designed by Dr. Jeff Peters (John Malkovich). A sophisticated modern woman, Frankie, having just dumped her sleazy politician boyfriend (Ben Masters), finds working with the robotic Ulysses to be a refreshing change of pace. Plus, it keeps her away from the tumultuous situation that is taking place in her apartment.

Her roommate Trish (Glenne Headly) is going through a messy split with her soap star boyfriend (Hart Bochner), and, not to mention, liberates her from the stresses of sister's upcoming wedding (the sister is played by none other than Susan Bergen, Wren from Seidelman's debut feature Smithereens).

Anyway, the amount of time Frankie spends at Chem-Tech's subterranean laboratories causes Ulysses to become disinterested in space and starts to grow somewhat attached to her instead.

This attachment, as you would expect, alarms Jeff, the scientist; in that, the robot was designed to explore the far reaches of the universe, not have sex on the kitchen floor with Glenne Headly or shoot a wad of ketchup onto Laurie Metcalf's fabric-covered chest.

Nevertheless, in terms of advancing the film's comedic trajectory, this kooky turn of events served the proceedings quite well.

The bubbly synthesizer score by Chaz Jankel (I especially liked the music that played during Frankie's initial drive to Chem-Tech's headquarters), the costume design by Rudy Dillon and Adelle Lutz was superb (Miss Magnuson's outfits in particular), the sleek cinematography of Ed Lachman made late '80s South Florida look like a cyan and pink paradise, and the sight of a non-pompous, non-evil John Malkovich frolicking in a shopping mall setting as the wide-eyed Ulysses was an unexpected treat.

Deserving all the exaggerated praise I muster, it was absolute joy to see Ann Magnuson in a starring role for a change. Normally relegated to back up roles and cameos (she played a cigarette girl in Seidelman's Desperately Seeking Susan), you could totally tell that the gorgeous actress/singer/Club 57 DJ, sporting short red hair, was relishing the chance the play the lead.

Whether she was shaving her legs and armpits in traffic, doing a prat fall in a bridesmaid dress, or taking off her pumps mid run, Ann is physical perfection as Frankie, a stylish woman who doesn't let the impracticality of her wardrobe impede her ability to chase after a fugitive robot. It should go without saying, but Miss Magnuson is a leggy fiend in Making Mr. Right, and the fact she is obviously keenly aware of how great her legs look only manages to make her seem even sexier.

And as most sane people know: sexy stem cognizance is freaking hot.

Staying on the topic of actresses who mainly play second bananas, I was very impressed by the depth of the supporting players. A virtual who's who of underrated and quirky babes, Laurie Metcalf (also from Desperately Seeking Susan), Glenne Headly, Susan Bergen, and Polly Draper (thirtysomething) all showed up to lend Ann Magnuson a hand in her debut as a leading lady (at least, I think it was her debut). Sure, they probably showed up to support to Susan Seidelman–you know, since half of them have worked with her in the past. But it was cool nonetheless.

* Uncircumcised Android Cock (U.A.C. in New Brunswick and P.E.I.) was the pseudonym I used during my made-up days as an unsuccessful children's music producer in the late 1970s.

video uploaded by kego


  1. I love Desperately Seeking Susan, but have only just started looking into Seidelman's other movies. This sounds interesting if only for the fashion and cast, but Smithereens also sounded cool. Have you seen it? What other films of hers would you recommend?

  2. Yeah, I've seen Smithereens (I own the Blue Underground DVD). It's grittier, less comedic than Desperately Seeking Susan, but I highly recommend it. A must-see for lovers of New York City and fans of early '80s Punk and New Wave.

    As for Seidelman's other films... my interest in seeing She-Devil and Cookie is a tad on the low side at the moment.

  3. I desperately love Making Mr. Right.
    And Susan Seidelman beat Wong Kar-Wai by 12 years with the perfect use of The Turtles' Happy Together.

    I got the chance to meet Susan and her husband when I was the manager of a video store in NYC, and they were appreciative of me putting Seidelman into the directors section. She needs a new leg to her directing career. I hope she finds it.

  4. When I saw this movie, way back in 1987, apparently I laughed so hard I embarrassed my sister. I don't remember this supposed uproarious laughter, much like I don't remember Glenne Headly in this movie. But I trust my sister's recollection.

  5. Cinema du Meep: Kudos for putting Susan Seidelman in your store's directors section.

    Karim: You could have been high on shrooms. ;)

    Seriously, I'm trying to think of what parts you found so funny in this movie.

    Speaking of not remembering junk, it's looks I forgot that Glenne Headly spells her first name with two e's.

  6. Maybe it was the U.A.C.? You know how teenagers find that sort of thing funny? Or maybe someone slipped me some happy pills?

    I do remember laughing out loud, LOL to the kids these days, at the opening spaceship sequence of Spaceballs. Sis then told me to shut up. I also started laughing when we saw Master and Commander because I couldn't help but think about Russell Crowe fighting around the world. I got a sisterly elbow in the ribs for that one.

    Oh, Happy Boxing Day!

  7. My knowledge of cock-based cosmetics was quite limited as a teenager, so I bet I would have missed the joke entirely had I seen it back in '87. :(

    I bruised my brain trying figure out what could possibly be so funny about Russell Crowe fighting around the world. But then I realized that it's probably something South Park related. :D

    I heard a lot of "Happy Boxing Day!" greetings today, and I still can't seem to tell the difference between which are being ironic and which are being sincere.

    Anyway, Happy Boxing Day!

  8. Another reminder of a great film from my semi-youth. I had totally forgotten this one.

  9. All right, semi-youth reflections; those are just peachy keen. ;)