The Beautician And The Beast

on February 07, 1997 by Christine James
   A comedic remake of Margaret Landon's book "Anna and the King of Siam," which tells the true story of a proper English teacher in the 1800s and of her contentious relationship with a brash autocrat, "The Beautician and the Beast" is an update/parody that feels more like "The Sound of Music" meets TV's "The Nanny." Fran Drescher, star of that popular sitcom, transplants her Nanny persona intact into the role of the "teacher"--actually a beauty school instructor from New York, mistakenly dispatched to a tiny European country to tutor the children of an ill-reputed dictator (former Bond man Timothy Dalton). Inevitably, the sassy beautician gives Dalton's iron-fist personality a manicure.
   Drescher has created a funny character, and those who haven't reached their Nanny saturation point will enjoy her antics. But the movie seems much too familiar and pat, and the one-joke twist of having a nasal-voiced, big-haired, outrageously-dressed fish-out-of-water replace the original's prim protagonist is not enough--especially when TV watchers can see a similar premise play out every week on the small screen. Starring Fran Drescher, Timothy Dalton and Ian McNeice. Directed by Ken Kwapis. Written by Todd Graff. Produced by Howard W. "Hawk" Koch Jr. and Todd Graff. A Paramount release. Comedy. Rated PG for some mild language and sensuality. Running time: 109 min
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