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  • A Fish Called Wanda
    • A Fish Called Wanda
    • Runtime:108 min
    • Release Date:2017-01-17 12:19:18
    • Director: Charles Crichton
    • Genres: Comedy, Crime
    • Studio:
MOVIE REVIEW:A Fish Called Wanda


*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A Fish Called Wanda (1988) is for comedy what Citizen Kane is for
drama, Godfather Part 1 and 2 for gangster epics, and 2001: Space
Odyssey for science fiction – it is one of the best in its genre. This
is a work of the comic genius. It is always funny and never goes out of
breath. The film is shining and sparkling like the diamonds of the
highest quality – just like these that made four thieves who have
pulled the heist of their lives to stop at nothing, including lies,
deceit, backstabbing, and betrayal, in order to possess them. The film
was made 22 years ago but time has nothing over A Fish Called Wanda. It
has not gotten outdated or stalled and it never will. It is a marvel
that can be enjoyed over and over. AFCW has become a cult favorite for
my family. Many quotes and jokes from the comedy are the part of our
everyday conversations, and we use them often even forgetting where
they came from: "Disappointed!", "Don't call me stupid", "You have a
beautiful speaking voice – when it works", "You British think you are
so superior", "What was the part in the middle?", "Avoid the green
ones. They're not ripe yet." "When you say "friendly", what are we
talking about here? Cordial? Courteous? Supportive? What?" There are
many more.

A Fish Called Wanda is a real "treasure", and it is not just my
opinion. The film which was a great success with the critics and the
box offices when it was released has been included in all possible
lists of the funniest movies and the best comedies. I looked them all
up. My younger son, who lists AFCW as one of his favorite comedies,
wrote the review about it and posted on this very site. He says in the
end of his review: "The film is close to 2 hours long, but the plot is
so clever and well-structured that it's over before you know it. To me,
that is one of the trademarks of a great film. You don't want this
movie to end, and you're disappointed when it does." I can add that as
soon as it is over I want to watch it from the beginning and experience
the magic of great movie making again. Very talented artists
participated in making A Fish Called Wanda, and everything in the film
turned out simply perfect. What makes the film truly funny all actors,
including in the small cameos, created memorable characters because
they had wonderfully constructed and written script to work with. John
Cleese deserves the first mention for his excellent triple work as the
co-writer of the Oscar nominated script/co-director and the star in the
role of Archie Leach, the well-mannered English gentleman whose
marriage seems to be in crisis, the defender of George, the leader of
the diamonds thieves who keeps the "key" to the coveted loot to
himself. Cleese's partner Python – Michael Palin is excellent as shy,
stuttering hit-man Ken who is secretly in love with Wanda, tenderly
loves animals but is ready to help an inconvenient witness to "meet
with an accident", even if it is a very old lady with a weak heart.
Loud, pushy and sexually liberated Americans are represented in the
film by Wanda (always charming and illuminating the screen Jamie Lee
Curtis) and her lover Otto, the former CIA operative, the expert in all
kinds of weapons (Kevin Kline in the Oscar winning performance) whom
she introduces as her brother. Wanda is as seductive and sexy as she is
clever, unscrupulous, conniving and backstabbing. What she wants she
sure will get. She is much cleverer than all men around her combined
together but seems that in the end she might find the right man. And
finally, Otto, "the ape who reads philosophy but does not understand
it…the man so stupid that calling him stupid is insult to stupid
people" who does not realize how vulgar and intellectually challenged
he is. In the movie where there is no bad or boring performance at all,
Kline is outstanding. A talented film and stage actor who has performed
in many Shakespeare's plays, he would never have the role as brilliant
and funny as Otto.

You can write the volumes about A Fish Called Wanda but they will not
explain its charm. One of the reasons that makes the film so funny is
playing the differences or in this case, the conflicts and clashes
between the different cultures, mentalities, ways of living, talking
(even if the same language), behaving, presenting oneself. But it is
just one of the reasons, there are many more. I only add that there is
documented the known death of a viewer from laughing while watching A
Fish Called Wanda. It happened in Denmark in 1989. The audiologist
named Ole Bentz laughed so hard while watching the film that his heart
rate was pounding between 250 and 500 beats per minute which led to the
fatal heart attack. It is certainly a tragedy but come to think of it,
a person died while being happy on the top of enjoyment. I envy such

And finally, a famous Russian writer and poet of 19th century,
Alexander Pushkin wrote in his play 'Mozart and Salieri', "If the sad
and dark thoughts come to your mind, Just open a bottle of Champagne or
Read again the "Marriage of Figaro." (Translation is mine)

I just would add – or watch again "A Fish Called Wanda."


Ex-Monty Python ringleader John Cleese co-wrote the screenplay for this
brisk, knockabout trans-Atlantic caper, but for all its dizzy action
the script never unleashes the full force of his iconoclastic wit.
There's a streak of pure Python cruelty to the humor (the biggest
laughs come at the expense of three very unfortunate dogs), but most of
the comedy revolves around old, familiar bedroom farce conventions,
with Cleese himself playing a respected, upstanding barrister doing his
frantic best to avoid being compromised by femme-fatale con
artist/jewel thief Jamie Lee Curtis. The film pokes broad fun at
English and American attitudes, but from a too narrow perspective. The
scream-and-shout school of comedy never was the best method for
observing people make fools of themselves, and jealous boyfriend Kevin
Kline's exaggerated crass American act is, in particular, more
irritating than funny.

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