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The Beautician and the Beast

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The Beautician and the Beast
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ken Kwapis
Produced by
Written by Todd Graff
Music by Cliff Eidelman
Cinematography Peter Lyons Collister
Edited by Jon Poll
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • February 7, 1997 (1997-02-07)
Running time
105 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $16 million
Box office $11.5 million

The Beautician and the Beast is a 1997 American romantic comedy film directed by Ken Kwapis. It stars Fran Drescher as a New York City beautician who is hired, under the false assumption she is a science teacher, to tutor the three children of a dictator, played by Timothy Dalton, of a fictional Eastern European nation. Ian McNeice, Patrick Malahide, Lisa Jakub, Michael Lerner, Adam LaVorgna, Phyllis Newman, and Heather DeLoach appear in supporting roles. Produced by Drescher's company High School Sweethearts in partnership with Paramount Pictures, The Beautician and the Beast is her first starring role in a film, and part of her attempt to transition from television to film.

Drescher chose Todd Graff to write the screenplay because of his familiarity with her style of humor. She pitched and sold the project to transition her career from television to film. Filming took place in Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, California, and Sychrov Castle in Prague. Kwapis consulted with dialect coach Francie Brown to create the fictional language Slovetzian for the movie. Cliff Eidelman composed the soundtrack which features the London Metropolitan Orchestra.

The Beautician and the Beast received primarily negative reviews on its release. Some film critics felt the story was too similar to a television sitcom, though Drescher and Dalton's performances received praise. However, Drescher was nominated for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress for her role. Commentators noted that the film deals with themes of cultural differences and took inspiration from outside sources. The Beautician and the Beast was a box office disappointment, grossing roughly $11.5 million against a production budget of $16 million.


The film opens with an animated sequence, where a prince awakens a princess with a kiss, though she rejects his romantic advances and runs away. The scene shifts to beautician Joy Miller, who teaches a New York City beauty school. One of her students accidentally sets the classroom ablaze by igniting hair spray with a cigarette, but she escorts her class and caged animals to safety. A headline in the New York Post praises Joy as a hero; Ira Grushinsky, a diplomat from the fictional Eastern European country Slovetzia, mistakes Joy for a science teacher after seeing the cover. He hires Joy as a tutor for the three children of the Slovetzia dictator Boris Pochenko, though she misinterprets his job offer as teaching hairstyling. After arriving at Slovetzia, Ira is surprised to discover Joy's identity, but she convinces him to keep it a secret.

Despite a bad first impression with Boris, Joy gets along with his children Katrina, Karl, Masha, and Yuri. While teaching them about life outside Slovetzia, she also helps them gain confidence in themselves. She learns about Katrina's relationship with Alek, the leader of the youth rebellion, and encourages Karl to pursue his dream of becoming an artist. During this time, Joy frequently clashes with Pochenko, who is disturbed by her independence and his inability to frighten her. Joy and Katrina go to a nightclub, which also operates as a base for the rebellion; Prime Minister Leonid Kleis follows the pair and arrests Alek.

Growing closer to Joy, Boris confesses to her that he wants to change his negative reputation as a "beast" among Western nations; she encourages him to form closer relationships with his citizens and shaves his mustache. During a trip to a factory, Joy realizes that Slovetzia lacks trade unions and pushes for the workers to hold a strike. She also arranges a secret meeting between Katrina and Alek in his cell. Despite Leonid's advice to fire Joy, she convinces Boris to hold a party for the summit of visiting emissaries to debut his new image; he places her in charge of the preparations. As part of the summit, Boris considers the release of Alek despite Leonid's disagreement. On the day of the event, Joy reveals her identity to Boris, but he does not care about her credentials. He thanks her for bringing happiness to him and his family.

During the party, Leonid confronts Joy about her role in Katrina's secret meetings with Alek; he threatens to have her arrested for treason. Following Boris's decision to keep Alek in jail, Joy informs him of her connection with him and Katrina; he argues with Joy over her meddling in Slovetzia's political affairs. She quits and returns to New York City. Over the course of several weeks, Leonid quietly takes over administrative duties and signs death sentences in Boris' name. When Ira informs him of the changes in power, Boris strips Leonid of his duties and arrests him on charges of treason. He reunites with Joy in New York City, informing her that he freed Alek and agreed to hold free elections in Slovetzia. Boris kisses Joy after admitting his feelings for her.


The cast is:[1]


A black-and-white image of a man in a uniform. He is holding a pipe toward his face while looking up.
Commentators compared Dalton's character to Joseph Stalin (pictured).

Emanuel Levy of Variety wrote that The Beautician and the Beast revolves around the "culture clash of Western democracy vs. rigid and inefficient communism" through the romance of the two main characters.[2] Christian Clemmensen of described the soundtrack as following similar concepts of "two separate worlds colliding" and "the prevailing of romance over tradition".[3] Film critics argued that the film has parallels between Boris with Joseph Stalin,[4][5] through Stephen Hunter of The Baltimore Sun said that the plot focuses on his transition from "rigid autocrat" to a ruler who "accept[s] a more benevolent political posture".[5] Hunter wrote that Joy is represented as "the very spirit of liberalism" through her interactions with factory workers and Boris' children, while comparing her to "the distilled essence of yenta".[5] According to Fran Drescher, the film's comedy comes from "juxtaposition[s] of her colorful American character onto a dark, oppressive-looking castle" and the rest of Slovetzia.[6]

Critics compared The Beautician and the Beast to the stage musicals The King and I (1951),[7][8] The Sound of Music (1959),[7][9] and Evita (1978).[7] Levy and a writer for the Golden Movie Retriever wrote that the film focuses on the battle of the sexes and cultural differences in a similar manner as The King and I and The Sound of Music.[2][10] It was also likened to Ernst Lubitsch's movies,[2][11] specifically Ninotchka (1939)[2][11] and The Shop Around the Corner (1940).[11] Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly described the plot as containing "a huge chunk [of] The Nanny",[12] while other commentators compared it to the 1991 film Beauty and the Beast.[13][14][15] Jeff Vice of the Deseret News wrote that the film's opening animation was a parody of the 1959 film Sleeping Beauty.[4] Critics described the romantic subplot between Katrina and Alek as inspired by the play Romeo and Juliet.[9][16]


A black-and-white image of a man in a tuxedo. He is smiling toward the camera.
Dalton became involved in the film due to his interest in taking more comedic roles.[17]

Fran Drescher pitched and sold the concept and title for The Beautician and the Beast.[6][18] She was an executive producer for the film[4] produced through her company High School Sweethearts.[2] The original title was The King and Oy, a reference to the musical The King and I.[19] Joy was Drescher's first starring role in a feature film, though her first movie appearance was in the 1977 drama Saturday Night Fever. When discussing her transition to film, Drescher said: "That fact that I'm sitting here selling a movie that rests on my shoulders really makes me realize where I am in my career."[17] She focused on encouraging viewers to take her seriously as an actress.[6][20] Director Ken Kwapis explained: "She has had to overcome a lot of skepticism about her voice, her abilities, the specificity of her comedy."[20] Drescher decided to play a character similar to her earlier work to make it easy for the audience to accept her as Joy. She compared her transition from television to movies with the careers of John Travolta and Michael J. Fox.[6]

Timothy Dalton joined the film as Boris to pursue more comedic roles.[17] Drescher had initially imagined that Kevin Kline would fit the character, but he was unavailable.[6] According to Will Harris of The A.V. Club, The Beautician and the Beast was one of Dalton's lighter and more comedic projects. During a 2014 interview, Dalton shared that he had a positive experience while creating the film, and praised Drescher for her comic timing.[21] Describing herself as "very protective" of Dalton during the filming, Drescher helped him with the comedy and ensured that he had enough comedic parts.[6]

Roger Birnbaum and Peter Marc Jacobson were also executive producers for the project; Todd Graff worked as a producer, alongside Howard W. Koch, Jr., and wrote the screenplay.[2] Drescher chose Graff because of their similar sense of humor, and explained that "he was familiar with her voice and what type of dialogue suits her best". She had sold the film with Graff as the screenwriter.[6] Kwapis recruited dialect coach Francie Brown to construct the fictional language Slovetzian,[22][23] which has influences from Czech, Russian, and Hungarian.[22] The film was shot in the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, California,[24] and Sychrov Castle in Prague.[2] The Beautician and the Beast was completed on a budget of $16 million.[25]


The Beautician and the Beast
Soundtrack album by Cliff Eidelman
Released February 11, 1997 (1997-02-11)
Genre Feature film soundtrack
Length 30:54
Label Milan
Producer Cliff Eidelman

American composer Cliff Eidelman handled the soundtrack for The Beautician and the Beast, which was recorded at the CTS Studios in Wembley. The album's nineteen tracks feature the London Metropolitan Orchestra.[26] Eidelman composed seventeen tracks, while the remaining two ("L 'Internationale" and "The J Waltz") are traditional works by composers Pierre De Geyter and Jerry Graff, respectively.[3][26] Patrick Russ, Pete Anthony, Geoff Alexander, and Greg Knowles orchestrated the album.[3]

The soundtrack incorporates elements of Russian classical music and traditional Eastern European classical and choral works[3][26] but does not contain "any New York influence".[3] The score is based on European waltz rhythms with a "hint of waltz-like movement ... faintly referencing Russian progressions" on every track with the occasional measure from Tchaikovsky. The main theme, which Christian Clemmensen described as a "pompous and almost comedic title theme of romance", is also influenced by the waltz. Clemmensen described it as "pranc[ing] along with character and spirit, much like Drescher's character in the film". Variations of the primary themes underscore the growing romance between Joy and Boris, with the wedding number "break[ing] loose with a less constraining rhythm"; a secondary theme is used for scenes with the Pochenko family.[3]

Milan Records released the soundtrack on February 11, 1997, on audio CD.[27] Due to the film's poor commercial performance, the album was pulled from record stores, and it went out of print in 2000.[3] It was later made available on the music streaming service Spotify.[28] Clemmensen described the score as a "one of the few bright aspects" of the film, but compared it to "predictable orchestral romance scores".[3] Jason Ankeny of AllMusic criticized Eidelman's melodies as "leaden and unfocused", adding they contain "none of the effervescence the genre demands".[26]

Track list[26]
1."Prelude"Cliff Eidelman1:12
2."Joy Falls on a Cloud"Cliff Eidelman1:19
3."The Castle"Cliff Eidelman1:38
4."Party Preparations"Cliff Eidelman1:41
5."Walking on the Edge"Cliff Eidelman1:29
6."Falling for the President"Cliff Eidelman2:35
7."Pochenko Meets the Peasants"Cliff Eidelman2:07
8."L 'Internationale"Pierre De Geyter1:45
9."Kleist Blackmails Joy"Cliff Eidelman2:02
10."His Excellency"Cliff Eidelman0:34
11."Cinderella's Confession"Cliff Eidelman1:51
12."The Chicken"Cliff Eidelman1:10
13."Ballroom Waltz"Cliff Eidelman1:31
14."The J Waltz"Jerry Graff2:44
15."Boris' Proud Speech"Cliff Eidelman1:10
16."You Are a Beast"Cliff Eidelman2:11
17."Going Away"Cliff Eidelman2:20
18."The Prince and the Princess"Cliff Eidelman1:35
Total length:30:54


The Beautician and the Beast received a wide release through Paramount Pictures as a Koch Company production.[1][2] Composer John Beal created the music for the trailer.[29] The film received a MPAA film rating of PG after being reviewed at a Paramount screening room in Los Angeles.[2] The premiere was held in Hollywood on February 4, 1997.[30] Opening at number three in the United States on February 7, 1997,[25][31] The Beautician and the Beast grossed over $4 million on its opening weekend.[25][32] It went on to earn $11,486,880,[25][33] becoming the twentieth highest-grossing PG-rated movie of 1997.[25] The film was considered commercially unsuccessful,[26] as its box office failed to meet its budget.[25] It was released on VHS on February 24, 1998,[34] debuting at number 38 on the Billboard Top Video Sales chart on March 21, 1998.[35] A DVD version, including an audio commentary by Drescher,[19][36] was made available on September 8, 2003.[36]

Critical reception[edit]

An image of a woman with shoulder-length hair is waving toward the camera. She is wearing a black-and-white dress. A woman wearing a colorful costume is seen in the background.
While some critics praised Drescher's performance, she was nominated for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress for the part. Drescher's voice was also a subject of criticism.

Based on 20 reviews, The Beautician and the Beast holds an approval rating of 15% on Rotten Tomatoes;[1] it received primarily negative feedback following its release.[37] MTV News' Eric Snider panned the plot for its lack of humor and character development.[9] Even though he responded positively to Drescher's charm, Roger Ebert wrote that the audience could not connect with her character as "we never feel she's really uncertain, insecure or vulnerable".[16] As part of his negative review of the script, Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune wished that the film was smarter with its parody of The Sound of Music.[38]

Some commentators criticized The Beautician and the Beast for being too much like a television sitcom.[12][39][40] Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote that the plot was "hampered, to greater or lesser degree, by the synthetic conceits of [its] stretched-out stories",[12] while The New York Times' Stephen Holden felt that Kwapis and Graff did not elevate the material.[39] The Beautician and the Beast was also cited as one of the worst romantic comedies in retrospective reviews,[23][31][41] with one critic disliking the chemistry between Drescher and Dalton.[41] Grace Montgomery Common Sense Media panned it as a "dated '90s romcom" constructed around clichés and stereotypes.[31] Empire's Nick De Semlyen listed The Beautician and the Beast as an unsuccessful adaptation of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale.[14]

Drescher's performance received positive responses from some critics.[2][5][16][42] Emanuel Levy praised her as "a warm, funny and likable performer" with Jewish mannerisms similar to Fanny Brice and Barbra Streisand.[2] While critical of the film's plot as "meager and expectable", Stephen Hunter wrote that he "grudgingly [came] to appreciate [Drescher's] good-heartedness".[5] Complimenting the script as "a comedy of details", John Petrakis of the Chicago Tribune likened Drescher's role as "a cartoon character with her big hair, thick makeup, loud clothes and bizarre voice" to actress Judy Holliday.[42] Commentators responded positively to Dalton's comedic acting.[4][8] Lauren LeVine of Refinery29 praised the chemistry between Drescher and Dalton, describing it as an "awkward friction".[43] Drescher's voice was frequently criticized by commentators in their reviews of the film.[5][11][16][40] She was nominated for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress for the 18th Golden Raspberry Awards, but lost to Demi Moore for her performance in the 1997 film G.I. Jane.[44]



  1. ^ a b c "The Beautician and the Beast". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on December 5, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Levy, Emanuel (February 3, 1997). "The Beautician and the Beast". Variety. Archived from the original on May 20, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Clemmensen, Christian (June 7, 2001). "Editorial Review". Archived from the original on August 25, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c d Vice, Jeff (February 7, 1997). "Film review: Beautician and the Beast, The". Deseret News. Retrieved June 29, 2018. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Hunter, Stephen (February 7, 1997). "Fran, keep your day job Review: It's a stretch, but 'Beautician and the Beast' does offer a measure of mirth. And, remember who's talking -- you may want earplugs". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved June 29, 2018. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Davis, Sandi (February 7, 1997). "Actress Fits "High Maintenance" Profile". The Oklahoman. Retrieved June 30, 2018. 
  7. ^ a b c "Picks and Pans Review: The Beautician and the Beast". People. February 17, 1997. Retrieved June 29, 2018. 
  8. ^ a b Kempley, Rita. "The Beautician and the Beast'". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on June 30, 2018. 
  9. ^ a b c Snider, Eric (May 1, 2008). "Eric's Bad Movies: The Beautician and the Beast (1997)". MTV News. Retrieved June 29, 2018. 
  10. ^ "The Beautician and the Beast". Golden Movie Retriever. January 1, 2008. Archived from the original on June 30, 2018.  (subscription required)
  11. ^ a b c d Shepherd, Duncan. "The Beautician and the Beast". San Diego Reader. Archived from the original on June 30, 2018. 
  12. ^ a b c Schwarzbaum, Lisa (February 14, 1997). "Fools Rush In; The Beautician and the Beast". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on December 8, 2017. 
  13. ^ Washington, Ariene (March 10, 2017). "13 'Beauty and the Beast' Adaptations". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on October 23, 2017. 
  14. ^ a b Semlyen, Nick De (March 16, 2017). "Beauty And The Beast Review". Empire. Archived from the original on November 28, 2017. 
  15. ^ Blumberg, Arnold T. (March 16, 2017). "Beauties and the Beast: 9 Other Filmed Versions of the Tale as Old as Time". IGN. Archived from the original on July 26, 2017. 
  16. ^ a b c d Ebert, Roger (February 7, 1997). "The Beautician and the Beast". Archived from the original on December 5, 2017. 
  17. ^ a b c Hillard, Gloria (February 7, 1997). "'The Beautician and the Beast' close to Dresher's roots". CNN. Archived from the original on June 30, 2008. 
  18. ^ Drescher (1996): p. 264
  19. ^ a b Drescher, Fran (September 8, 2003). "The Beautician and the Beast Audio Commentary" (Interview). Paramount Pictures. 
  20. ^ a b Strauss, Bob (February 4, 1997). "Fran Drescher in the Driver's Seat". Los Angeles Daily News. Archived from the original on June 30, 2018.  (subscription required)
  21. ^ Harris, Will (May 9, 2014). "Timothy Dalton on Penny Dreadful, serenading Mae West, and being James Bond". The A.V. Club. Retrieved June 30, 2018. 
  22. ^ a b Rogers (2011)
  23. ^ a b Gallagher, Brenden (December 5, 2012). "The 50 Worst Romantic Comedies". Complex. Archived from the original on June 30, 2018. 
  24. ^ White & White (2011): p. 273
  25. ^ a b c d e f "The Beautician and the Beast (Summary)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on August 3, 2017. 
  26. ^ a b c d e f Ankeny, Jason. "AllMusic Review by Jason Ankeny". AllMusic. Archived from the original on March 19, 2017. 
  27. ^ "Releases". AllMusic. Archived from the original on June 28, 2018. 
  28. ^ "The Beautician and the Beast". Spotify. Retrieved June 28, 2018.  (subscription required)
  29. ^ "Coming Soon: The John Beal Trailer Project, Vol. 1". Apple Music. Archived from the original on July 2, 2018. 
  30. ^ "Premiere of "The Beautician and the Beast"". Getty Images. February 4, 1997. Archived from the original on July 2, 2018. 
  31. ^ a b c Montgomery, Grace (April 15, 2015). "The Beautician and the Beast". Common Sense Media. Archived from the original on November 28, 2017. 
  32. ^ "Top Ten Films". The Washington Post. February 11, 1997. Archived from the original on June 30, 2018.  (subscription required)
  33. ^ "The Beautician and the Beast (Weekly)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on June 30, 2018. 
  34. ^ "Beautician & Beast VHS". Amazon. Archived from the original on October 15, 2010. 
  35. ^ "Top Video Sales". Billboard. 110 (12): 94. March 21, 1998. Retrieved August 14, 2018. 
  36. ^ a b "The Beautician and the Beast". British Board of Film Classification. Archived from the original on July 2, 2018. 
  37. ^ "Critic Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 30, 2018. 
  38. ^ Siskel, Gene (February 7, 1997). "It Takes An Hour For `Dante's Peak' To Start Cooking". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on November 30, 2017. 
  39. ^ a b Holden, Stephen (February 7, 1997). "A Dictator Who Has Potential". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 16, 2018. 
  40. ^ a b Anderson, John (February 7, 1997). "'Beautician and the Beast': 'King and I' Meets 'Nanny'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on June 30, 2018. 
  41. ^ a b Donnelly, Erin (August 24, 2015). "30 Random Rom-Com Couples That Didn't Quite Work". Refinery29. Archived from the original on December 31, 2017. 
  42. ^ a b Petrakis, John (February 7, 1997). "Beauty Of Fran Drescher's `Beautician' In The Comedic Writing". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on September 16, 2015. 
  43. ^ Le Vine, Lauren (April 2, 2015). "Here's Everything Coming To Netflix In April". Refinery29. Archived from the original on February 1, 2016. 
  44. ^ Wilson, John (March 22, 1998). "1997 Archive". Golden Raspberry Awards. Archived from the original on October 17, 2014. 

Book sources[edit]

  • Drescher, Fran (1996). Enter Whining. New York City: Regan Books. ISBN 0-06-039155-3. 
  • Rogers, Stephen D. (2011). The Dictionary of Made-Up Languages: From Elvish to Klingon, The Anwa, Reella, Ealray, Yeht (Real) Origins of Invented Lexicons. Avon: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4405-2817-0. 
  • White, Robert; White, Phyllis (2011). Hollywood and the Best of Los Angeles. Garsington: Hunter Publishing, Inc. ISBN 1-58843-286-6. 

External links[edit]