Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Fish Called Wanda (Crichton. 1988)

"Apes don't read philosophy."


I have found that there are several films on the 1077 Films to See Before You Die that will leave you depressed. This makes completing the list a very daunting task. There are days when one cannot handle another neo-realistic tear-jerker. Sometimes you just need to watch a movie that will make you laugh. If you are trying to finish the 1077 Films to See Before You Die and you feel like you need a break from the depressing - I recommend you watch Charles Crichton's 1988 comedy, A Fish Called Wanda.

There are several things that make A Fish Called Wanda a working comedy, but the biggest working aspect is the film's silliness. This is not Citizen Kane (1941). There is no need to take what you are watching seriously. This is fluffy entertainment at its comedic apex. This has everything to do with the perfect cast and the side-splitting screenplay.

The screenplay for A Fish Called Wanda was primarily written by Monty Python alum, John Cleese. He uses the classic comedic formula of putting four very different characters in an outrageous situation. You have your straight laced good guy (Cleese), your vixen (Jamie Lee Curits), your sympathetic goofball (Michael Palin) and your funny man villain (Kevin Kline). While these characters interact with each other we are forced to recognize that intertwining relationships will eventually be each person's demise. Cleese was able to create simple, yet frantic, communication between each on-screen persona. Nothing ever goes outside of the box, but the entire plot remains fresh due to quick dialogue and quirky character traits.

Though the remarkably unattractive Jamie Lee Curtis gets top billing for A Fish Called Wanda, the picture is absolutely stolen by the charismatic and hilarious performance of Kevin Kline. He plays a faux-intellectual criminal named Otto who believes himself to be the smartest man alive. He stumbles through classic philosophical works and then butchers the famous lines from them, respectively. He rips apart the romantic languages as he pretends to fluently speak them. Kline gives himself over to the comedic Gods in this role. Everything he says or does is funny. Everything from his actions to his accents will make you chuckle. He even has a perfect villain mustache.

Funny, silly and zany are the perfect words to describe A Fish Called Wanda. The humor of the picture is a testament to Cleese's writing and Crichton's skillful directing. This, unlike many other films from the list, is one that you can watch at any time of day. You will laugh at the cartoonish concepts and witty banters of this 1980's classic. A Fish Called Wanda is one of my new favorite comedies. It is lighthearted, fluffy and hilarious.

A Fish Called Wanda: B-

My Next Film....The Wolf Man (Waggner. 1941)

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