Thursday, 13 August 2015

I've Just Seen: A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
Director: Charles Crichton (with some help from John Cleese)

This was a re-watch. I have seen it several times but was prompted to watch it again after listening to the 'What She's Having' podcast episode about it. I remember that I liked the film very much, but I couldn't for the life of me recall the plot (something about a heist?). Of course, the plot is the least important part of this comedy, simply there to support the hilarious performances of the cast.

I could imagine Ernst Lubitsch making these types of films today; Trouble in Paradise (1932) has some similarities with this. There are also elements of Warner Bros. cartoons, particular Michael Palin's attempts to off the little, old lady. The culture 'clash' between the American and British characters is funny, toying with but never quite buying into stereotypes. While everyone is bringing the funny, Kevin Kline steals every scene he is in. He is horrible and cruel but impossible to hate, probably because he is so self-deluded. The scenes between Kline and Palin are cringingly funny, as Kline insults, assaults and attempts to seduce Palin.

There is not much to say about this film, except that if you like witty lines, cartoonish violence, ridiculous characters and bit of '80s saxophone, then this is the film for you.


  1. I love this movie and it's one of a very few true comedies that I have given five stars to.

    1. There really are no faults in this film. It understands the importance of timing, both in verbal and visual gags: a problem I find in several modern comedies (for me, they often push the jokes past being funny and into 'hurray up and get on with it territory'). I would definitely agree with your rating.

  2. Michael Palin attempting to say "Cathcart Towers Hotel" is one of the most frequently quoted movie lines in my house.

    I'm with Chip on this one--there's nothing about this movie that doesn't work for me. I love every moment of it.

    1. The look on his face when he reads it out is also hilarious!

      It's the old cliche, but it's true: they don't make movies like this anymore (or at least very infrequently).