(Air Date: Week Of 02/05/97)
We all know that life can imitate art, and art can imitate life, and, with The Beautician and the Beast, we find out that cinema can ripoff TV. Not in the same way that TV series like Star Trek and The Addams Family became feature length films that openly capitalized on the popularity and name of the TV shows long after the shows had ascended into the golden pantheon of TV heaven.
The Beautician and the Beast is a more furtive imitation of the small screen. I mean, the title doesn't sound anything like The Nanny, does it? That's the TV show, starring Fran Drescher, that this movie imitates, even shamelessly casting Fran Drescher as a loudmouthed, but good-hearted governess from Brooklyn, not much different from the loudmouthed but good-hearted nanny from Brooklyn that she plays on TV.
But the names are changed to protect the innocent -- in The Beautician and the Beast, the governess' name is Joy Miller, and her stern employer is absolute despot Boris Pochenko, played darkly and smolderingly by Timothy Dalton. It's debatable how many points for originality the filmmakers should get for setting this movie in the Eastern European country of Slovetzia since it's all too reminescent of the fictional European monarchy, Grand Fenwick in The Mouse that Roared.
Any way, after some bungling Slovetzians mistake Joy, the beautician, for a science teacher, she gets the job as governess in Slovetzia, where, wearing these sculpted hairdoes from the early sixties, she teaches her charges about split ends. She also wears stretch pants and clingy knit tops in bright pastels, revealing this Beach Blanket Bingo figure, which doesn't go unnoticed by our stern despot. He keeps up his guard for a while, but, under that bristling moustache, he just wants to have some fun and meet people.
Openhearted Joy intercedes for his daughter, who's fallen in love with a revolutionary, and turns the Slovetzian factory workers onto unions. There's a grand ball where she cuts a Cinderella-like figure, but, shucks, the rotten military leaders are plotting against her. Will Slovetzia be democritized? Will despot Boris Pochenko shave his moustache? Will his overweight daughter learn how to dress? Will Joy get her despot -- I mean, her man? If these questions interest you, be sure not to miss The Beautician and the Beast.
Copyright 1997 Mary Weems
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