Whoopi Goldberg’s social satire comedy, The Associate, is a well meaning, but odd film. It’s a mistaken identity farce laced with commentary about the male dominated world of corporate culture. The talented actress eventually dons heavy makeup to resemble a sexagenarian Caucasian male. Ideally this would lead to laughs, but the film falls flat right when it should be ramping up.
Laurel (Whoopi Goldberg) is an intelligent investment banker struggling to succeed on Wall Street. When an unqualified white man (Tim Daly) receives a promotion, she quits her job to start her own business, only to learn that, as a woman, she is not taken seriously. To fool her competitors, Laurel creates a fictitious white man named Robert S. Cutty to manage her financial deals. But as Robert’s popularity grows, Laurel realizes that living two lives is harder than she thought it might be.
The second half of The Associate is paced very slowly. In order for the screwball elements of the plot’s this act to work it needs to be handled with good writing, precise timing, sharp editing, and manic energy. All of these elements go absent mid-way through and the film just languishes on-screen. Dianne Wiest steals the movie, while Tim Daly and Eli Wallach are appropriate slimy and charming. The Associate has it’s heart in the right place, but loses its way in a dull, unfunny, predictable second half.
Director: Donald Petrie
Stars: Whoopi Goldberg, Dianne Wiest, Eli Wallach