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When Laurel Ayers (Whoopi Goldberg) is passed over for a promotion she deserves, she concludes that hard work alone isn't going to take her to the top. So she invents an associate, "Cutty," a white male that will take her investment knowledge into the boardrooms of Wall Street.
At first, The Associate's plot appears skin-deep, but the script's internal exploration into more subtle issues of discrimination shows that these concerns are not all black and white -- or male and female.
For instance, Laurel discovers that Sally (Dianne Wiest), her secretary, has great power by being able to access the appointment books of many high level executives. Or the scene that takes place in a strip bar where men are more willing to invest in a g-string than in Laurel's well researched portfolios. The movie explores the issue of women choosing to exploit themselves through the character of Camille (Bebe Neuwirth) who is convinced that her body will take her further than her brains.
Unfortunately, to illustrate these points, this movie contains scenes that will be objectionable to many parents. Near nudity, and very brief upper-frontal nudity are included, as are other sexually suggestive elements.
In the end, Laurel uses her Cutty character to drive home the point that we too often judge each other by outward appearances. When Laurel reveals herself as a black women, to an all white-male crowd of executives, only the black bus-boys are able to immediately appreciate what she has done.
In some ways, the ending seems too simple for all the meat that precedes it, yet if parents are tuned into the message of this movie, The Associate can be a great discussion starter with older teens on the subject of judging others. Do we judge only by appearances? Do we see ourselves as only being able to do what other people judge us as being capable of? As parents, please watch this movie first! Even with the positive discussions that can follow, there are many scenes that may not meet your family's standards.
The Associate is rated PG-13: for sensuality and an exotic dance club scene.
Cast: Whoopi Goldberg, Tim Daly
Studio: (pictures (c)1996 Buena Vista Pictures)