There’s much to love here. Kevin Kline’s Oscar-winning, scene-stealing performance, Cleese’s striptease and handy use of a goldfish, and the most incompetent attempt to take out a target remain joyous highlights. It’s all competently presented for the Blu-ray release, too. It’s hardly reference quality transfer work, but it’s a decent, if unspectacular upgrade.
It’s the package of extra features that justify the outlay. The looking back feature, for instance, brings the cast back together for a good retrospective on the project, and they’re both good company, and have interesting things to say. There’s a lot of less interesting deleted material, too, although it’s generally the kind of stuff that you’ll only watch once. But you might be more tempted to go back to the commentary track by John Cleese, which is a real delight, and one of the highlights of the disc.
There’s a good selection of further material to work through as well. The film hasn’t looked better, and there’s a real sense that you’re getting a surprisingly thorough collection of bonus material. --Jon Foster
Aside from an inch-perfect screenplay, A Fish Called Wanda also benefits from a fine cast of actors to deliver it. John Cleese steals every scene he's in, as you might expect, and he more than justifies his reputation as one of, maybe even the, finest British comedy actor ever. He is joined by a talented pair of Americans; Kevin Kline and Jamie Lee Curtis, along with, as mentioned, his fellow Python Michael Palin. Kline is certainly one of the most underrated actors working today, and his comic timing in this movie is right on the money. Makes you wonder how much better he could have been used over the years. "Scream Queen" Jamie Lee Curtis also does well in the title role; and Michael Palin obviously knows his way round a comedy script. The jokes in the film come thick and fast, and I can't think of a single one that didn't work. It's the big gags that are the real stand out of the movie, though, and one in particular that sees Kevin Kline trying to explain to Cleese's wife what he's doing in their home is absolutely priceless. I nearly fell of my chair laughing. This film is a must see.
A twenty million dollar jewelry heist is pulled off in London's Hatton Gardens by four eccentric misfits, two Brits and two Americans. George, (Tom Georgeson), is the ringleader, the man who masterminded the theft. He is the only one who knows where the jewels are hidden. His partners in crime include animal lover, Ken Pile, (Michael Palin), a socially inept bumbler with a stuttering problem. He loves his goldfish, Wanda, (named for the movie's heroine), with the passion most attach to their significant other. Wanda Gershwitz, (Jamie Lee Curtis), is George's girlfriend, who uses her formidable seduction techniques to get what she wants, and she wants all the money! Wanda finagles to bring Otto West, (Kevin Kline), into the gang, telling the others he is her brother - although like most other men in the film, he is her lover. And Kline is brilliant as the manic, Nietzche-reading, ex-CIA agent and Anglophobe. He is a self-styled intellectual, but is so stupid that he thinks the London Underground is a political movement. As Wanda remarks, "He's so dumb he thought the Gettysburg Address was where Lincoln lived."
The ploys, dirty tricks and double-crosses Otto and Wanda use against their partners, to prevent them from receiving a share of the loot, are classic. When George's lawyer, Archie, (John Cleese), falls in love with Wanda, her formidable skills at juggling men are seriously challenged. Cleese brings an endearing romantic touch to the smitten Archie. The situation grows more and more convoluted and the laughs build right along with the escalation. Otto is extremely jealous of any man who looks twice at Wanda, and obviously Archie takes more than two glimpses. Madcap madness!
I don't want to disclose any more of the plot here, but "A Fish Called Wanda" contains some of the funniest scenes I have viewed on film. Director Charles Crichton keeps the pace moving at a nice clip and the satire involving the cultural clash between the very proper, if somewhat stuffy English, versus the uncouth, aggressive Yanks is pure delight. At one point, Archie says to Wanda: "Do you have any idea what it's like to be English? We're all terrified by embarrassment. That's why we're all dead!"
This flaky farce is a must see! A definite 5 star film.
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