Let’s cut to the chase: I love Boris and Natasha – The Movie, the 1992 feature film starring Sally Kellerman as the ever-so-thin Natasha Fatale and Dave Thomas as the always dyspeptic Boris Badenov, the lifelong nemeses of Rocky and Bullwinkle of…er…The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (aka Rocky & His Friends, The Bullwinkle Show, The Rocky Show, Moose-a-Rama) fame. Originally planned as a theatrical release, Boris and Natasha went straight to cable when the studio producing it went bankrupt. Both those who love and those who have never seen this comedic gem should be elated to learn that it is now available on DVD (manufactured on demand) from the MGM Limited Edition Collection.
This live-action release captures everything that is good about the original Rocky and Bullwinkle series (and everything about the original series is good)—political humor, satire, parody, in-jokes, pop culture and historical references, naïveté, corny jokes, puns, slapstick, fantasy, and impossible scenarios—adding a handful of cameo appearances to keep the audience on its toes. ).
When Boris and Natasha defect to the United States, they are actually under orders from Fearless Leader (Christopher Neame, suitably sinister in the role) to find and eliminate the inventor of a time-reverse chip. What they don’t know (and the audience does) is that the Pottsylvanian tyrant plans to use the two bumbling spies to find the inventor (Paxton Whitehead), and have another operative kill the three of them. The United States government, of course, treats them as it does all defectors, giving them a luxuriously-appointed apartment, credit cards, and lots of cash. In the next apartment, their every move and word is recorded by a team of American spies. In fact, the entire neighborhood is awash with “intelligence” gatherers.
Boris trusts no one and scoffs at the American lifestyle, while Natasha quickly adapts to consumerism and is taken with overbearing-but-likable neighbors Toots (Andrea Martin) and Harve (John Calvin) who extend a welcoming hand to the strangely secretive couple. Natasha is soon a fashion icon and instant celebrity featured on the covers of the most popular magazines, when the narrator (Corey Burton, amazingly faithful to the original cartoon narration by William Conrad) interrupts and returns the story to spy stuff.
Fans of the fantastic four—Rocky, Bullwinkle, Boris, Natasha—will find Boris and Natasha a delightful recreation of the Jay Ward cartoons. Those unfamiliar with the original series will enjoy the pure silliness of it all. As a diehard fan (ask my cats and dogs, Nell Fenwick, Mister Peabody, Fearless Leader, and Rocky—alas, Boris and Natasha have gone to that great Pottsylvania in the sky), I expected the live-action version to be a disappointment when I first viewed it a dozen or so years ago. I was happily surprised to find I was wrong. I laughed unceasingly throughout that screening of Boris and Natasha, and continued to do so with my most recent viewing (this week). [Click here for action-packed trailer.]