The Associate

No matter what people tell you about this movie, no matter how much you like Whoopi Goldberg, no matter what mind-altering drugs you mayhave taken prior to the film, no matter what bad toilet water you may have slurped beforehand -- when Laurel Ayres (Goldberg) emerges as her imaginary male partner, Robert Cutty, but one thought goes through your mind (as it goes through the minds of all in the theater): "Who the hell do these people think they're trying to kid?"

Laurel is the sole proprietor of her own investment firm, but she's forced to make up a white male partner after she discovers that the powers that be are about as likely to do business with a black woman as they are to run down Wall St. naked singing "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow." So Laurel makes up Cutty, hires away her old partner's (Tim Daly) secretary, Sally (Dianne Wiest), and becomes incredibly successful. The only snag: Cutty gets all the credit, forcing Laurel to produce him in the flesh.

In need of a gender-bending makeover, Laurel utilizes the one resource available to all formulaic comedies: the tranvestite best friend. Here's a monumentally original idea for Hollywood: A transvestite with absolutely no fashion sense! Go for it, Hollywood, take a risk! The transvestite best friend is such a beaten cliché that we're probably not too far away from seeing our kids playing with "Transvestite Best Friend" action figures. "Hey kids, she may be Jane on top, but she's still Dick underneath!" Neil Jordan can direct the accompanying Saturday morning cartoon.

Whoopi forgoes the penis, however, in favor of a mask that bares a striking resemblance to an embalmed Richard Attenborough. I had no idea that this had become a popular Halloween costume in England, but it certainly saved the makeup team hours upon hours of slopping actual makeup on Whoopi's face. One suspects that the makeup artists were given a set budget and told that they could keep whatever money was left over.

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