Volume 90, Issue 77

Tuesday, February 11, 1997



In need of a makeover

The Beautician and the Beast
Directed by Ken Kwapis
Starring Fran Drescher and Timothy Dalton
At Famous Players 6, 7:05 and 9:25 p.m.

With the laugh of a goat and the body of a supermodel, Fran Drescher is a real-life caricature of what America would like to be. "Pretty Vacant" was the way I believe Johnny Rotten put it and it fits nicely.

Does The Nanny translate well to the screen you ask? Well, the dialogue is vapid and adolescent, so writer Todd Graff manages to retain the show's integrity quite nicely.

In fact, Drescher's film (oh yes, it's hers all right – she's the executive producer, thank you very much) doesn't stray very far from her television sitcom, nor does her character Joy Miller differ much from that of Miss Fine. Drescher says she wanted to preserve audience identification. In other words, her audience would be far too stupid to imagine her in any other role. You know, she could be right.

It's certainly not as if the plot is all that complicated. They may as well have stolen the script straight out of The King and I, adding a few Beauty and the Beast touches here and there with the mise-en-scene or the ballroom dance finale.

Consequently, one would think the writers would have had plenty of time to work out some pretty snappy dialogue. Instead, we're treated to overused Jerry Springer lines like "Talk to the hand. . ."

What's more, the characters are two-dimensional cardboard cut-outs straight out of the "How To Write A Screenplay" textbook. The only real surprise in the film is they have the nerve to try feeding us this tired old tripe as if it were fresh. I'm guessing the film is aimed at a young audience. But even then, what kid is really interested in a sappy romance? And what about Dalton? He was better as Bond and he wasn't very good at that.

The most disturbing thing about The Beautician and the Beast is the ideology that lies so near the surface you could scratch it with a Lee Press-on Nail. Ostensibly, the story is about an idealistic young American beautician, Joy, who travels to a fictional, eastern European country called Slovetzia in order to tutor the children of the country's Stalin-esque leader (Dalton).

You guessed it! Another opportunity for America to score a few points with the Democracy Will Save the World campaign they love so much. I mean, Slovetzia is so deplorable that the children are being taught their leaders were the ones heading up Desert Storm, stealing the credit from the true heroes. Is anyone still swallowing this stuff? And the film's answers to the problematic adjustments taking place in the former Soviet Republic? A new wardrobe and a makeover and it will be just fine! After all, image is everything!

Let me give you three reasons not to go see this movie: 1) The children are comprised of a young militant who would really rather paint, a teenage princess in love with a young rebel despite her pre-arranged marriage, a fat little girl with no self-esteem who is allowed to blossom when Max Factor kicks into high gear and a baby boy who fears his father so much he bites his fingernails; 2) The heroine reads Tony Robbins' positive thinking books and that's just plain scary; 3) One and two are plenty.

–Mark Johnston

To Contact The Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997