The Beautician and the Beast

* * 1/2*

The Beautician and the Beast is a somewhat amusing, if familiar, story. Fran Drescher stars as Joy Miller, a New York City beauty school teacher, who, in a mixup, is recruited to the the royal tutor for a tiny reforming Eastern Europe dictatorship, Slovetzia. The President-for-Life of Slovetzia is Boris Pochenko (Timothy Dalton), a dour man who makes Stalin look happy-go-lucky. Of course, there's no surprise where the story goes from here. Boris and Joy hate each other at first sight. But Joy's spontaneous ways soon enchant the dictator's glum brood of children, and since opposites attract... Fans of the Nanny will know what to expect from Drescher's character (likewise, those who detest her shrill voice will find no refuge here). Dalton's dictator on the other hand is all growls and barks. You don't find very deep characterizations in the supporting players either. For the most part, Pochenko's family are used primarily as props. But something must click in The Beautician and the Beast, for as a overly-familiar movie with stock characters and predictable situations, it is mildly entertaining. Not all, but some of the jokes work, and the film leaves you smiling. Granted, this film is not a monumental work of art, nor will it convert any Fran Drescher-haters out there. But as a pleasant and slightly humorous diversion, it fits nicely. (Paramount)

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