A Fish Called Wanda Movie Review

I believe that if A Fish Called Wanda opened today, it would make at least $100 million, and possibly more if it weren't sharing screens with Borat and the next comedian of the month after Dane Cook and his five o'clock shadow fade away. What's odd is that Wanda, like Midnight Run, hasn't become part of the pop culture lexicon like Animal House, Blazing Saddles, or Airplane! That shouldn't be a deterrent. It's relentlessly funny, smart, and has a tremendous cast.

The Wanda of the title is named after a very lovely American (Jamie Lee Curtis) who is involved in a London jewel heist organized by her temporary lover, Georges (Tom Georgeson). Working a long con, Wanda recruits her boyfriend Otto (Kline) for the gig and has him squeal on Georges. The plan works except Georges hides the diamonds.

Wanda finds a key for a safe deposit box, but nothing else. Enter George's barrister, Archie Leach (John Cleese, also the movie's writer), who Wanda gradually seduces to get more information. For Archie, suffering from an unbearable domestic life, falling in love with Wanda is inevitable, triggering a string of hysterical events, most involving a very jealous Otto.

Cleese's script never stops moving, a good thing that becomes great because he fills it with clever, borderline-vulgar physical comedy (an animal-loving hit man who keeps killing an old lady's dogs in increasingly gruesome ways; the comparison of Otto and Wanda's love life with Archie's) and terrific dialogue (Wanda's speech on the depths of Otto's stupidity). It's a marvel of a script, brilliantly stupid in the mode of the aforementioned classics, and not in a "Hey, that old lady is rapping" kind of way.

It's a given that in a movie this funny, the cast would be good. Cleese and Michael Palin, comedy gods in some circles, are terrific, with Palin's PETAish grief over accidentally killing three dogs a perfect definition of ironic humor. But it's Kline who steals the movie, playing the quintessential ugly American, the kind of arrogant dolt who believes the British are the ones driving on the wrong side of the road. He infuses the movie with malevolent, blissful energy, whether he's eating live fish or complaining about the mannerisms of the British. Kline won an Academy Award for his performance, and it's one of the few times where the Academy's judgment should be universally lauded.

With a collector's edition now available on DVD, featuring commentary by Cleese and nearly 30 minutes of deleted scenes, featurettes (new and old), and a trivia track, it's the right time to watch A Fish Called Wanda, so it can finally get the quotable legacy it so richly deserves. And by the way, Aristotle wasn't Belgian. I looked it up.


Comments

A Fish Called Wanda Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: R, 1988

Editors Recommendations

Is The Cannes Palme d'Or Heading David Cronenberg’s Way for 'Map to the Stars'?

The Cannes Film festival is sneaking up fast. The Oscars felt like they were 8 minutes ago...

Is The Cannes Palme d'Or Heading David Cronenberg’s Way for 'Map to the Stars'?

CounterPoint Festival 2014 To Feature Hometown Return of Outkast

Next weekend's CounterPoint Festival will be the event's first year at a new 5000-acre site, featuring...

CounterPoint Festival 2014 To Feature Hometown Return of Outkast

'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' - Not Perfect, But Really, Really Fun

Superhero movies have been striving towards the almost unobtainable goal set...

'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' - Not Perfect, But Really, Really Fun

Ricky Gervais is "Hooked" on David Brent Again - Former Paper Merchant To Return

A return for David Brent has been mooted ever since the character was wheeled...

Ricky Gervais is

This Labor Day, Jay Z Is Bringing "Made In America" To Downtown Los Angeles

Jay Z and the Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti have announced that the rapper’s...

This Labor Day, Jay Z Is Bringing

Anna Wintour wants 'more exclusive' Met Ball 2014

The editor-in-chief of US VOGUE magazine is reportedly determined for the annual...

Anna Wintour - Anna Wintour wants 'more exclusive' Met Ball 2014

'Mrs Doubtfire' Sequel Will Be Made 21 Years After The Original

The comedy classic 'Mrs. Doubtfire' is reportedly set to return to the big-screen...

'Mrs Doubtfire' Sequel Will Be Made 21 Years After The Original

'Of Mice And Men' Brings Out Broadway Talents Of James Franco, Chris O'Dowd

Of Mice And Men premiered on Broadway last night, giving critics a chance to cast...

'Of Mice And Men' Brings Out Broadway Talents Of James Franco, Chris O'Dowd

Sofia Vergara On Her Menage a Trois in Woody Allen's 'Fading Gigolo'

Sofia Vergara has been speaking about her nerves at shooting a ménage a trois with...

Sofia Vergara On Her Menage a Trois in Woody Allen's 'Fading Gigolo'


More recommendations