REVIEW: A Fish Called Wanda

In the eighties, there was the dawning of a new generation awaiting us in the film industry and in my humble opinion, A Fish Called Wanda perfectly demonstrates that. Where we are sent back into the older generation of comedy is that there are many slapstick segments involved with some rather unique characters but amongst that, it is set in modern day England where it still looks the same right now as it did over 20 years ago when A Fish Called Wanda was made. Crime-comedy is a combination of two genres that are almost the exact opposite to each other and even now, crime-comedy is quite a rare genre but A Fish Called Wanda is just the most perfect example of that.

It really takes somebody with the weakest sense of humour to not at least chuckle during this film especially the fact that this film actually killed a Danish audiologist in 1989 because he couldn’t stop laughing while watching before it was cardiac arrest that killed but it was due to the film. No, this film isn’t to scare anybody that they will die while watching the film, I am just pointing out how much laughter and fun you will get out of watching this one. On many occasions, I had to walk out the room when I was watching it because I just could not stop laughing! Yep, that is how funny it really is.

The respect for John Cleese in comedies when portraying characters such as this with slapstick segments, a guy who is deep-down an idiot despite his profession and because John can play this kind of character so perfectly, that is the main reason why he has always been and always will be such a fantastic and successful actor! John also bought us a similar character that we have seen him portray in the past and the example for this is when portrayed Basil Fawlty in 1970s British sitcom Fawlty Towers. It is the awkward and often frustrating moments where characters Archie Leach and Basil Fawlty have the most in common. Jamie Lee Curtis was rising into fame, not only because of her very famous parents (Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh) but because she is becoming a role model and a sex symbol of the 1980s and that is quite possibly the main reason why she was cast as Wanda in this film. She is literally the perfect bitch because she easily takes advantage of all the men around her, mostly it is seducing them to at least retrieve some information about the loot location and it goes to show how easily led on men (particularly older men seeing as all the actors and characters she is involved with are perhaps at least a decade older than her) are by her. She should have had an Academy Award nomination for Best Leading Actress!

Kevin Kline’s performance as Otto is definitely the best performance out of all the actors in A Fish Called Wanda because he literally cracked me up when I first watched this and still manages to do so now! Otto is definitely the best developed character because he thinks he is a very clever guy after being a former member of the CIA but deep-down, he is an incredibly dumb idiot who almost has no clue at all and perhaps has a few psychological problems. The scenes where he was jealous of Archie during those romantic scenes with Wanda were probably the funniest scenes. Kline’s performance as Otto not only cracked the audience up but it also became a breakthrough in the comedy genre because for at least a very rare time (or the first (and only) time), he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1989 and that hardly ever happens at all so now I don’t think any comedy performance will be better than Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda. Michael Palin was another addition to the cast but portrays a character that, in my mind, has a slight split personality. When he is with gangster George (who is Wanda’s original lover), he commits crimes (such as the robbery and tries to kill the old lady but accidentally kills her dogs instead one by one), he is a rather cold-hearted guy but when he is away from that, he is a very affectionate animal lover with a bad stutter. It normally takes a great actor with strong commitment to a film to play a stuttering character so brilliantly and that is exactly what Michael Palin did in this film. I never thought that he’d be beaten at playing a stuttering character but I think Colin Firth as George VI has surpassed him but just about.

Together, the late Charles Crichton and John Cleese thought up this fantastic story and have created a comedy that is unfortunately a rather underrated one but has everything that a comedy should have but even better. It really was brilliantly filmed and directed but I did notice some bad bloopers! Then again, every film has at least one and that didn’t affect my liking or wreck the realism of the film in any way whatsoever so that proves how taken I really was by A Fish Called Wanda. It is a very clever story that was written ingeniously by two guys who along the way wrote the film like it was stupid but because the characters (especially Otto) are stupid and how brilliantly it was written and filmed, it is something rather unique to pull off and after seeing it, I can’t ever see anybody turning even one bit of stupidity into absolute classic and ingenious comedy! Another unique key point about the story and the way it was written was how Cleese and Crichton made the English and the Americans almost like enemies in this film but they are allies in real-life and were back in the eighties.

Overall, A Fish Called Wanda is an absolutely amazing, hilarious and clever comedy that is easily one of my favourite films of all time. Not only does it feature one of the best ensemble cast members but they all deliver performances that are perfect for the characters they are playing. There are some outstanding British films but this is definitely up there with some of the best, it is both one of the best crime films as well as one of the funniest films ever made. In fact, A Fish Called Wanda truly is the funniest film on this planet and I don’t think there ever will be a funnier film that I will see in the future than this!


~ by SJMJ91 on 18/05/2012.

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