The Associate - * *

Riding the feminist wave of The First Wives Club, The Associate shows a woman struggling in a man’s world, but fails in its attempts to have her join it. Whoopi Goldberg is Laurel Ayres, a brilliant, yet struggling Wall St. executive. No matter how hard she works, it always seems that she’s passed up when promotions are handed out. When her eager protege, Frank (Tim Daly) gets promoted above her, she finally gets fed up and quits the firm, in order to strike out on her own. However, she soon finds out that it’s a man’s world on Wall Street, and no one will do business with a woman. In order to succeed, she invents an imaginary partner, Robert Cutty, and ala Remington Steele, business begins to boom. However, when Cutty is forced to show himself, Laurel must don a disguise and become her own creation. It is in this latter part of the film that The Associate goes down. Robert Cutty ends up looking like Whoopi Goldberg in a Thomas Jefferson mask. That anyone would be fooled by this freakish thing strains credibility further than this movie can sustain. Before Cutty’s appearance, the film manages a few chuckles here and there, but as the film goes on, you are left to wonder just HOW stupid can the characters be? And then Cutty’s anticlimactic appearance succeeds at destroying the remaining lifeblood in this movie. Diane Wiest has a nice part as the shy but brilliant secretary who is also overlooked by the corporate world, and Bebe Neuwirth has an amusing but slightly unbelievable bit as a woman who sleeps her way to the top. Whoopi tries hard, but the Associate ends up as another in a long line of her poorly chosen comedies.

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