Making Mr. Right Review

Frankie Stone (Ann Magnuson) is a PR executive who has just dumped her unfaithful boyfriend Steve (Ben Masters), who is running for Congress. Meanwhile, Jeff Peters (John Malkovich) has developed an android in his own image called Ulysses (also Malkovich), designed to cope with a seven-year solo space journey. He hires Frankie to help promote Ulysses. Jeff, who has worked hard to eliminate emotions from his own make-up, is disturbed to find that the childlike Ulysses is developing quite a few of his own…and is soon in love with Frankie.

Susan Seidelman had a big hit with her second feature, Desperately Seeking Susan. That success had more than a little to do with the presence of a certain singer called Madonna. Even though Susan remains one of Ms Ciccone’s best film roles, not a few people – myself included – thought that what really carried the film was the contribution of her co-star Rosanna Arquette. It certainly promised a bright future for its writer-director as well. That was nearly twenty years ago now. Arquette is no longer the star she was at the time. Seidelman, after a high-budget misfire in 1989 with She-Devil, has worked in television ever since, her only feature since then being the little-seen Gaudi Afternoon from 2001. In fact, the names Ann Magnuson, Glenne Headly and Laurie Metcalf aren’t ones to juggle with any more, though the actresses are still in regular work. (As for John Malkovich and Madonna, well we know what happened to them…)

Making Mr. Right was Seidelman’s follow-up to Susan. It didn’t do nearly as well, possibly due to no popular singers in the cast, and inevitably it’s a little dated, but it stands up quite well as a romantic comedy, shot through with farce, based on a SF premise. The script (by Floyd Byars and Laurie Frank) and Seidelman’s direction have the necessary light touch, and the film gets in a few well-aimed jabs at the male of the species. Note how Ulysses always short-circuits when he gets aroused! The performances help considerably. Malkovich, quite early in his career, is much funnier than he’s often allowed to be. He expertly distinguishes the buttoned-up creator from his creation largely through voice and body language, and some very good special effects (a few years before Jeremy Irons could interact with Jeremy Irons in Dead Ringers) allow the two Malkoviches to be convincingly on screen together. Ann Magnuson (who had a small role in Desperately Seeking Susan) is just as good as Frankie, though you can see why she didn’t become a bigger star. She’s a little too sharp, too intelligent, and a little too unaccommodating to a mass audience – in fact this is one of her few leading roles. Glenne Headly gives an accomplished comic turn as best friend Trish, who tries to seduce Ulysses with disastrous results, in possibly the film’s funniest scene. Also, Susan Berman, star of Seidelman’s engaging debut feature Smithereens, plays Frankie’s sister.

Making Mr. Right is another film from the back-catalogue of the now-defunct Orion, released on DVD by MGM. The DVD is encoded for both Regions 2 and 4. It’s transferred anamorphically in the original ratio of 1.85:1. It copes very well with the camerawork of Edward Lachman ( who was the DP on Susan as well) and Barbara Ling’s production design, both of which emphasise solid blocks of strong, primary colours. This seems to be a Miami thing. Having recently watched Miami Blues, a very dissimilar film with a different DP, I’m struck how similar an eye it has for its location city as Making Mr. Right does. The transfer is bright and colourful, though perhaps a little soft throughout.

Making Mr. Right was made at the time when mono soundtracks were on their way out and major studio releases were close to being 100% Dolbyfied, with only a few holdouts like Woody Allen and Stanley Kubrick. Many films with Dolby soundtracks were still mono in all but name, and Making Mr Right was one of these: pretty much centre channel throughout, with the surrounds being taken up with the music score and songs. This is faithfully presented in a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded track on this DVD. The foreign-language dubs are also surround-encoded, except for the French which is mono for some reason.

As with most MGM back-catalogue titles, there are sixteen chapter stops, a menu that uses icons rather than words, and no extras at all, not even a trailer. The Region 1 release from MGM has the trailer as its only extra.

Making Mr. Right certainly won’t change your life, but it’s an entertaining comedy that doesn’t outstay its welcome. If you can find this DVD cheaply, it’s worth picking up.

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Last updated: 19/04/2018 11:52:08

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