Friday, September 21, 2012

783. A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

Running Time: 108 minutes
Directed By: Charles Crichton
Written By: John Cleese, Charles Crichton
Main Cast: John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, Michael Palin, Maria Aitken
Click here to view the trailer


For the past few days I've been begging SOMETHING to come along and break me out of my slump, something that I've never seen before, something fresh and new. Well "A Fish Called Wanda" is certainly worthy of the title "slump buster", however, this wasn't the first time I'd seen it.

The plot is quite intricate for a comedy, so stick with me here while I do my best to try and piece this one together for you. First you have the cast, an eclectic group consisting of Wanda (Curtis), a she-devil with a knack for seducing men and a fetish for foreign accents, Otto (Kline), a weapon's expert with a jealous streak and a penchant for smelling his underarms and Ken (Palin), a stuttering lap dog. Along with George, Wanda's lover and their ring leader (or at least that's what he thinks), these quartet of criminals plan to rob a bank in England and make off with thirteen million pounds worth of diamonds. The heist is pulled off without a hitch, save for an elderly woman walking her dogs spotting the group and the gang make it back to their rendezvous, prepared to let things blow over for seventy-two hours, before they cash in and leave the country. You see, George thinks that Otto is Wanda's brother, but in reality he is actually her lover and when the gang go their separate ways, Wanda and Otto take matters into their own hands, phoning the police and turning George in, with plans to take the loot and split. What Otto doesn't know is that Wanda is actually playing him too, with plans to get a hold of the loot single handedly. When Wanda and Otto go back to pick up the diamonds they find an empty safe, with only George, now being held in jail, knowing their whereabouts. George shares with his lackey Ken the whereabouts of the diamonds too, giving him a key to hold, which unlocks the safe deposit where the jewels are being stashed. Enter Archie Leach (Cleese), George's lawyer and the plot only gets thicker.

There are many comedies that walk a fine line between comedy and drama, but if you're looking for a straight, out and out comedy, there is perhaps none better than "A Fish Called Wanda" and I'll boldly stand behind that statement. What you have here is an absolutely incredible group of talent, working together like a well oiled machine to produce a movie that is GUARANTEED to make you bust out laughing at least once, if not dozens of times. With not one, but two Monty Python alums (Cleese and Palin) and an on fire Kevin Kline how could this movie not be a laugh out loud time at the movies? And yes, Kevin Kline actually took home an Academy Award for his performance here and it's unbelievable because how often do you hear of comedies even getting Oscar nods, let alone winning? You also have an outstanding script, written by John Cleese and Charles Crichton (who also directed), with intricate details, running gags, well developed characters who have quirky, hilarious traits, one-liners and a movie that never lets up from the word "go". There is no downtime here and every scene proves to be worthwhile, noteworthy or just flat out funny. "A Fish Called Wanda" is one of those films that would be easy to watch over and over again, reliving the humor, laugh after laugh. And did I mention that Jamie Lee Curtis looks stunning as ever, sporting dozens of costume changes, each one sexier than the last.

I have to go back and harp on how jam packed this script is though, because it's really amazing how much they were able to pack in. Take Otto (Kevin Kline) for instance. Here's a guy who has a repeated catchphrase throughout the film of "Don't call me stupid!", pretends to be Wanda's brother, although secretly he's her lover, pretends to be homosexually attracted to Ken to throw him off the fact that he and Wanda are really lovers, smells his armpits throughout the film, when he's feeling especially manly and yells "ASSHOLE!" at any English driver whom even nearly causes him to have an accident. They just took what would normally be a very regular character and kept adding elements to his personality until he was interesting, funny and unlike any other character in film history. The same goes for all the characters, as they're all packed full of personality traits that make each of them unique and the whole thing just meshes together for a great time. This is currently streaming on Netflix and trust me, this is perhaps the most "must see" comedy in the history of cinema.

RATING: 10/10  If I were rating this as one of the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", I'd have probably given it an '8.5', but instead I'm just rating it on the comedy scale and on that scale it's a ten plus.


September 21, 2012  11:19pm

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