Boris And Natasha: The Movie

1992, Movie, NR, 88 mins

Review

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A live-action recreation of the bumbling spies from the beloved 1960s cartoon show "Rocky and His Friends" (aka "The Bullwinkle Show") might have been a good idea for a skit on "SCTV," but as a 90-minute feature film, it's at least 80 minutes too long.

In the tiny Balkan country of Pottsylvania, Fearless Leader (Christopher Neame) assigns operatives Boris Badenov (Dave Thomas) and Natasha Fatale (Sally Kellerman) to locate Prof. Kregor Paulovitch (Paxton Whitehead), a scientist who has disappeared in the United States after inventing a device that can reverse time by three seconds.

Pretending to be defectors, Boris and Natasha turn themselves in to US Intelligence. Although case officer Sheldon Kaufman (Alex Rocco) doesn't believe their story, he accepts them as defectors in order to find out what they're up to. The spies' efforts to track Prof. Paulovitch are sidetracked when Natasha unexpectedly becomes a famous supermodel, leading Boris to regret his mistreatment of the woman, who has long been in love with him.

Their search eventually brings them not only to Prof. Paulovitch but to the Professor's evil twin brother. At the Professor's secret laboratory, all four Pottsylvanians are confronted by Kaufman, who has been hired by the automobile and insurance industries to suppress the Professor's device. In the struggle, Boris detonates a pile of the devices, sending everyone back to the beginning of the movie.

Made in 1988 but unreleased for several years, BORIS AND NATASHA isn't truly wretched, just undernourished. It tries hard to revive the anarchic spirit of Jay Ward's cartoons, but Boris and Natasha were only supporting characters there and nothing is done to make them interesting over the course of a feature film. In place of any real wit, the script simply heaps on tiresome complications and distracting cameo appearances (look for June Foray, the voice of many cartoon characters including Rocky the Flying Squirrel, as an autograph hound).

BORIS AND NATASHA would seem to have been designed as a showcase for Sally Kellerman, who is certainly the perfect choice to play the tall, elegant Natasha. (Kellerman was the film's executive producer, and also sings the theme song "It's Good to Be Bad.") Her comic sexiness makes her the one good reason to see the film. As Boris, Dave Thomas tries hard but has nothing to work with, even when given the chance to play against former "SCTV" co-stars Andrea Martin and John Candy. Maybe if they had been allowed to write this.... (Violence.) leave a comment

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