Some Like It Hot” meets “The Trouble With Angles” meets the Disney pasteurization process in “Mr. Headmistress,” but talented comic actor Harland Williams provides the spark that turns this cliche fest into harmless family fun.
Tucker (Williams, last seen in the goofy throwaway theatrical “Half Baked”) is a con man deluxe, who runs into some old “business associates” after his release from the state pen. Escaping the thugs, he jumps on a train and ends up in the sleeper cabin of highly respected — and highly starched — educator Naomi Bascombe (Janet Wright), who conveniently hits her head on an overhead bin and is knocked unconscious.
Still tracked by the thugs, Tucker, who’s obviously seen “Some Like It Hot” too many times, appropriates her clothes, slips by his pursuers and ends up as headmistress of the Rawley School for Girls, full of incorrigible but misunderstood rich kids.
Hijinks ensue and everyone learns a valuable lesson on the way.
Director James Frawley keeps the pace brisk while writers Scott Davis, David Kukoff and Matt Roshkow take a silly situation and infuse the script with wry undertones — milked by Williams — salvaging “Headmistress” from a cutesy death.
Never all that convincing as a female — which in this context doesn’t really matter — Williams is pretty funny clomping around in heels, employing a ridiculous Dan Aykroyd-as-Julia Child accent, fending off advances from an overzealous school patron.
He also brings a sardonic, sly reading to his lines that makes his perf a standout.
Katey Sagal (“Married … With Children”) stomps around like Ilsa the She-Wolf of the SS in her cliched character, and despite the rest of the equally familiar plot elements and the tug-on-the-heartstrings wrap, “Headmistress” succeeds in doing what it set out to do: Entertain the family.
Tech credits are aces.