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The Beautician and the Beast Reviews

Relatively inoffensive, fairy-tale fluff that contrives to deposit brassy Queens beautician with a heart of gold Joy Miller (Fran Drescher) in the heart of a grimly contemporary version of the sort of imaginary mittel-European kingdom where once found romance. She's meant to teach science to the children of the titular beast, President-for-Life Boris Pochenko (Timothy Dalton), a dictator who bears an uncanny and not especially amusing resemblance to Joseph Stalin. Instead, she ferrets out Pochenko's soft center, hidden beneath intimidating layers of military regalia and stern mannerisms, and finds true love. Equal parts THE SOUND OF MUSIC (sans music) and ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM, this picture's appeal rest entirely on Drescher's shoulders: Sure, her nasal honk could shatter crystal, but the film is her showcase, and if you find her charming, this one's for you. The same cannot be said for Dalton, the man too grim to play licensed-killer James Bond: He seems entirely capable of the dreadful acts everyone attributes to him, which puts a bit of a damper on the strenuously lighthearted goings-on.