The Beautician and the Beast

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The Beautician and the Beast
The one-sheet promotional poster for film.
Directed by Ken Kwapis
Produced by Todd Graff
Hawk Koch
Roger Birnbaum
Fran Drescher
Peter Marc Jacobson
Written by Todd Graff
Starring Fran Drescher
Timothy Dalton
Music by Cliff Eidelman
Cinematography Peter Lyons Collister
Edited by Jon Poll
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
February 7, 1997 (1997-02-07)
Running time
105 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $16 million[1]
Box office $11,486,880[1]

The Beautician and the Beast is a 1997 American comedy film directed by Ken Kwapis and starring Fran Drescher and Timothy Dalton as the title characters. The story follows the misadventures of a New York City beautician who is mistakenly hired as the school teacher for the children of the president of a small Eastern European country. The story is similar to that of The King and I, The Sound of Music, and Evita, with elements also reminiscent of the sitcom The Nanny, for which Drescher is most famous.


An American beautician named Joy Miller (Fran Drescher) teaches students to groom hair, but is put out of business when one of her students accidentally ignites hair spray with his cigarette, eventually leading to the school burning down. Joy ends up being highlighted in a newspaper article after she helps her students and the caged animals escape the building successfully.

The article is seen by Ira Grushinsky (Ian McNeice), a diplomatic representative of a small Eastern European country called Slovetzia (bordered by Hungary, Romania, and Ukraine), a country she never heard of. Ira has been sent to the United States to find a tutor for the three children of Slovetzia's President, and, mistakenly thinking that Joy is an academic teacher, offers the job to her. Joy accepts, and it is only after they arrive in Slovetzia that Ira realizes his error. By then it is too late, and Joy agrees to keep up the ruse of being a "real" teacher for the time being.

The initial meeting of Joy with the President, a dictator named Boris Pochenko (Timothy Dalton), gets off on the wrong foot, but Joy gets along well with his four children Yuri, Katrina (Lisa Jakub), Karl (Adam LaVorgna), and Masha (Heather DeLoach). Joy teaches them of life outside Slovetzia and helps them gain confidence in themselves. Joy frequently clashes with Pochenko, who is disturbed by her fierce independence and the fact that he cannot frighten her.

Joy's presence in Slovetzia is due to Pochenko's desire to change his reputation among other Western nations as a "beast". His second-in-command, Leonid Kleist (Patrick Malahide) is against Pochenko's "softening" strategy, and wants to crush the growing rebellion among Slovetzia's youth. Joy eventually learns that Katrina is in love with Alek (Timothy Dowling), one of the leaders of the youth rebellion. Alek is captured by Pochenko, but Joy secretly helps Katrina sneak to his cell to see him.

A summit of visiting emissaries are arriving in Slovetzia to meet with Pochenko, and Joy convinces him that the best way to prove that he is a modern-thinking man would be to throw a party. Joy is put in charge of preparations, and during this time she and Pochenko grow closer.

On the evening of the dinner, Joy confesses that she is not an academic teacher, but by this time Pochenko does not care about her credentials, only that she has brought happiness to him and his family. Later, Leonid confronts Joy with the fact that she has been helping Katrina meet Alek. When this information is brought to Pochenko, he argues with Joy on her meddling, and Joy decides to leave Slovetzia for good.

Some months pass. Leonid has quietly taken over administrative duties and signing sentences in Pochenko's name. Pochenko, made aware of this fact by Ira, confronts Leonid and strips him of his duties. Pochenko realizes that he has spent many months depressed and discontent after Joy's leaving, and decides that it is time to change his ways.

The film's final scene shows Joy back at home with her parents. She has also been depressed after leaving Slovetzia, but then receives a surprise visit by Pochenko. The pair reconcile.


According to the DVD commentary, the original title for the film was The King and Oy, a direct reference to the 1956 musical film The King and I, but it had to be changed as they could not obtain the rights from 20th Century Fox to use it.[2]

The film was shot in Beverly Hills (Greystone Mansion), Los Angeles, and Prague.[3]


The fictional country depicted in the movie, "Slovetzia", is a tiny state (possibly qualifying as a European microstate) between Romania, Ukraine and Hungary; situated roughly in Trans-Carpathia, a real region of Ukraine. The republic is a post-communist Eastern European dictatorship.

The national flag of Slovetzia is a red over (medium) blue bicolor with a black boar's head with white tusks. The ratio of the flag is approximately 2:3. The presidential flag of Slovetzia seen on the president's car is square.

Slovetzian language[edit]

Slovetzian, a fictional Slavic language, is spoken by the children of the president and other characters in the film. The language is written in Latin letters as seen in the film.

Though not a linguisitic expert himself and a unilingual English speaker, director Ken Kwapis wanted to create a language for the fictional Slavic country of Slovetzia. He hired dialect coach Francie Brown, who worked with the director and the actors to create a "Slovetzian language and accent".

Ken Kwapis picked sounds he liked from Czech and Russian (Slavic languages, but especially based on the former as the film was mostly filmed in the Czech Republic, in and around the capital Prague); Romanian (a Romance language with significant Slavic influence) and Hungarian (which belongs to the Uralic languages and is not an Indo-European language). From that, they decided what a Slovetzian language and accent should sound like.

During one scene, papers with Czech sentences lie on the Slovetzian president's table.


The film received negative reviews from critics, including a scathing review by Susan Wloszczyna of USA Today. The irony is not lost, as the character of Boris Pochenko lambasts the negative coverage of his country by the American press (in particular USA Today) in the film.

Roger Ebert wrote that "The Beautician and the Beast made me laugh, but each laugh was an island, entire onto itself. They didn't tie together into anything very interesting."[5]

The Beautician and the Beast currently holds a 17% "rotten" rating according to Rotten Tomatoes.[6] Fran Drescher was nominated for a Razzie Award as Worst Actress for her performance in the film.[7]


  1. ^ a b "The Beautician and the Beast (1997)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  2. ^ "Trivia for The Beautician and the Beast (1997)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  3. ^ "Filming locations for The Beautician and the Beast (1997)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  4. ^ "The Beautician and the Beast – Article Ratings & Comments". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2008-07-05. 
  5. ^ "The Beautician And The Beast". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  6. ^ "The Beautician and the Beast (1997)". Flixster, Inc. Retrieved 2012-08-25. 
  7. ^ "1997 Archive – Golden Razzies". Golden Raspberry Award Foundation and John Wilson. Retrieved 2012-08-25. 

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