Making Mr Right (1987)


USA. 1987.


Director – Susan Seidelman, Screenplay – Floyd Byars & Laurie Frank, Producer – Joel Tuber & Mike Wise, Photography – Edward Lachman, Music – Chaz Jankel, Visual Effects – Bran Ferren, Makeup – John Caglione, Doug Drexler & Carl Fullerton, Production Design – Barbara Ling. Production Company – A Barry and Enright Production


Ann Magnuson (Frankie Stone), John Malkovich (Ulysses/Dr Jeff Peters), Glenne Headly (Trish), Ben Masters (Steve Marcus), Laurie Metcalf (Sandy McCleary), Hart Bochner (Don), Harsh Naygar (Dr Ramdas), Polly Bergen (Estelle Stone)


PR consultant Frankie Stone is hired by a company that is designing an android for deep space research. They want her to help popularise their android Ulysses with the public so that their funding will not be cut. Frankie comes up with the idea of selling Ulysses to women. She starts to take Ulysses out to teach it about women and human behaviour, much to the disapproval of its cold fish creator Dr Jeff Peters, who has built Ulysses in his image. Confusion ensues when Frankie asks Jeff out and the now curious Ulysses and he become mixed up.

After appearing with the likeable Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), which became a reasonable hit, Susan Seidelman was seen as one of the few women directors working in the mainstream during the 1980s. Disappointingly, Seidelman never quite fulfilled her initial promise. She went onto make the wholly unlikeable Fay Weldon bastardisation She-Devil (1989) but then faded away. Seidelman has alas failed to make another Desperately Seeking Susan – her subsequent films have entirely eluded cinematic releases and she now tends to work in tv. Seidelman’s films are women’s movies. She is not particularly out there forging feminist frontiers, her films never burn with a political anger, they are loose and easy comedies that come from a single working women’s background, freely, sometimes hopelessly, dreaming about finding fulfilment and escaping and at the same time gently laughing at the foibles and frustrations of a modern woman’s lot.

Sandwiched in between Desperately Seeking Susan and She-Devil was Making Mr Right. It is not what one might call a great comedy, but it is nevertheless a modestly likeable one. Seidelman never enervates the snowballing comedy of errors with the same kinetic craziness that Desperately Seeking Susan had, although the film’s homilies on love and what women want in life are amiable. She has two good performers on hand who do make the film work a good deal more than it would have without them – Ann Magnuson who has a way of lighting up the entire screen every time she crinkles her eyes in humour; and John Malkovich whose dual essayal of the emotionless Jeff and the wide-awake blank innocent Ulysses is an extraordinary chameleon split. The goofy innocence does get exhausting after a time but in the latter third Ssan Seidelman allows it to progress to an ending that touches in the film’s chaotically amiable way.

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