Picks and Pans Review: Personal Services

updated 07/27/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/27/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

After her first arrest for running a London bordello, Julie Walters asks a policeman if he drives a car. "A big car?" she queries seductively. The bemused bobby nods. "I thought so," she says as she waves goodbye to her friends with her pinky. The scene illustrates Walters' cheekiness, which makes her performance in this riotous, raunchy film as appealing as her Oscar-nominated appearance in Educating Rita. Directed by ex-Monty Python Terry Jones and inspired by the life of England's most notorious madam, Cynthia Payne, this movie pokes fun at English society's—indeed most societies'—hypocritical attitude toward sex. Though the film is explicit, what's most offensive are the double standards it lampoons. Walters starts out as a waitress who supplements her income by subletting rooms to prostitutes. When one of her tenants bolts, Walters fills in, and she finds the experience so rewarding she opens a "kinks and costume" service. "The future lies in kinky people," she tells her partner, Shirley (1984) Stelfox. Their clients include a timid tax collector who likes to be beaten while wearing a bikini and a lawyer who likes to wear a schoolgirl's outfit and pretend he's a lesbian. Yet when the big raid comes, the clients go free while Walters stands trial. These events, as filtered through David (Mona Lisa) Leland's funny script and Walters' Cockney delivery, provide a series of one-two combinations that land right on target. (R)

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