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2/16/16

A FISH CALLED WANDA - REVIEW


A Fish Called Wanda was released in 1988 and starred two sixths of the Monty Python gang, John Cleese and Michael Palin, along with the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline, the latter picking up an Academy Award for his performance.

The film sees femme fatale Wanda (Curtis) and her lover/partner in crime Otto (Kline) attempt to con a London gangster after helping him gather some priceless diamonds. The heist goes according to plan but the jewels are nowhere to be found so it becomes up to Wanda to get close to the gang leader's barrister Archie (Cleese) in order to figure out where they could be hidden. Otto being the jealous type, this plan proves to be difficult for all involved, especially when Wanda starts to develop genuine feelings for Archie. Meanwhile, Ken (Palin), the stuttering ally of the imprisoned gangster, is tasked with getting rid of an old lady who witnessed the robbery and, again, this proves to be much more difficult than it was meant to be as he keeps killing her dogs by mistake.

There's definitely a little bit of the Pythons' sensibilities here, even a dash of Fawlty Towers at times, but the refreshing thing about this film is how it feels like something completely original: a heist comedy that's not so much about the heist as it is about a bunch of goofy characters you wanna see act goofy. Every so often Hollywood attempts a comedy like this (see Bandits) but it never gets it quite as right as A Fish Called Wanda which is cartoonish and farcical, yes, but also sharply written, and extremely well put together. Everyone in the cast has great chemistry with each other, seems to be having a ton of fun and Kevin Kline definitely deserved his Oscar in what is still a career-best role for the actor. Some classic moments include Ken having to watch in horror as Otto devours every rare fish in a fish tank, Wanda's bizarre language fetish, Ken's clumsy murderous rampage and Archie's bumbling attempts to sustain an affair.

All in all, A Fish Called Wanda, much like the titular fish, is a rarity: a very funny comedy that just works completely, from start to finish and doesn't feel like any other film.

Recommended.

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