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Dr Jeff Peters (John Malkovich) is a scientist who doesn't have much of a life outside of the lab. He builds an android named Ulysses (John Malkovich) in his own image but hasn't the patience to coach him in the finer points of human behaviour and hires Frankie Stone (Ann Magnuson), a high-powered Miami PR specialist to do the job. Ulysses needs only to learn the basics to prepare him for a seven year space mission, but much to his mentor's confusion, Ulysses proves to be such a quick and eager learner that he develops emotions beyond his bytes and begins to fall in love with her.

Review by Keith Lofthouse:
This quirky, fast-paced and quick-witted comedy about finding love in unexpected places is a genuine surprise, given that when it was fresh few bothered to see it. Making Mr Right had been damningly compared with the director's previous film, the monumentally overrated Desperately Seeking Susan, and after Tootsie (1982), All Of Me (1984) and Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) started the snowball rolling, it was lost in the rush of role-switch or mixed-twin comedies (Big, Maid To Order, He's My Girl, Mannequin, Big Business and Twins) that proliferated at the time. We see the film as at least an artistic success, with Seidelman committed to avoiding the predictable confusions and clichés of films in which look-alikes discombobulate the plot.

There are fine-tuned performances from Malkovich in his dual roles as dorky scientist and android and from newcomer Magnuson who was barely noticed in her bit as The Cigarette Girl in Susan. Splendid contributions also come from a talented cast in funny supporting parts, such as Laurie Metcalf (from TV's Roseanne) as an Amazonian admirer of the unwilling Dr Peters who winds up with the wrong replicant in the shopping mall and Glenne Headly as a floozie jilted by a soapie star.

It's all deceptively simple but lightly spiced with a temperate feminist tweak. Magnuson, who resembles Shirley MacLaine in looks and style, is the hotshot PR specialist hired to create public awareness and talk-show celebrity for the Chem-Tech Corporation's latest showpiece...an android constructed in the image of his unworldly creator. The trouble with Ulysses is that he has "anatomically correct" human parts but no "humanity;" no concept of the basic social graces. Rather than eating cake through the usual orifice, Ulysses assumes that it can only be engorged, rather messily, through his entire body! It's clear that if the people are ever going to warm to Ulysses - after all, it's the public purse that will help jettison the android into space for the next seven years - Frankie Stone is just the feminist Frankenstein who must teach the monster some manners. She could hardly anticipate, of course, that Ulysses would speed-read the facts of life and yearn for very much more than the art of pure etiquette.

Never has the question "why do people fall in love?" seemed so disarming, but it leads to a question even more vexing: can there be love between life forms? What's special about this movie is the subtle way in which Ulysses acquires more humanity while his obsessive reclusive creator, who only ever sees Ulysses as a mess of bits, bytes and micro-chips, loses his. In the gentle, sensitive and innocent Ulysses, Frankie is able to make value judgments which enable her to put her own love life into perspective...and see her shallow Congressman boyfriend for the self-centred windbag he is. It's a love story all right, but where love once meant "never having to say you're sorry," this time love means never needing to know you're soldered.

Published November 11, 2004

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(US, 1987)

CAST: John Malkovich, Ann Magnuson, Glenn Headly

DIRECTOR: Susan Seidelman

SCRIPT: Floyd Byars, Laurie Frank

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes

PRESENTATION: widescreen



DVD RELEASE: November 17, 2004

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