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A Fish Called Wanda
1988 - R - 108 Mins.
Director: Charles Crichton
Producer: Michael Shamberg
Written By: John Cleese
Starring: John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, Michael Palin, Geoffrey Palmer
Review by: John Ulmer
John Cleese leads an all-star cast in this funny, but overrated crime comedy.

Crooks Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her lover Otto (Kevin Kline) have successfully stolen millions of dollars worth of diamonds from a bank in London, England, along with George and a stuttering animal-lover, Ken (Michael Palin). They hide the stash in a safe, then pretend that they will meet back in three days to fly somewhere away from England. But George goes back, hides the stash in an airport security deposit box, and puts the key to the safe in his pocket. However, he doesn't realize that Wanda and Otto are planning to turn him in to the police and take the loot for themselves. They do so, only one problem: When they go for the diamonds, they're not there. Now they must take a trip to George (who is in jail, of course) to discover where he has hid the jewels. George doesn't suspect Wanda, but suspects Otto of turning him in. He doesn't tell her where the jewels are. So Wanda meets with George's lawyer, John Cleese, the only man who George would talk to, and the only man who could possibly know where the diamonds are. Wands plays Cleese for information, but soon chaos insues and the plot takes so many twists and turns it's hard to say what happens without ruining some gags.

"A Fish Called Wanda" is probably a bit too fondly remembered. I heard so much about this movie and was really expecting a lot. Yes, it's funny, and yes, it has very funny moments, but I really expected more than I got.

Writer-star John Cleese does a good job playing a British lawyer, or bannister, or whatever they are called in England. Curtis does a good job playing a smart thief who uses her good looks and charm to lure men into her trap. Michael Palin is great as a stuttering Ken. But the best of the cast is Kevin Kline as Otto. He is a wild guy who is both impulsive and aggressive. A bad mix. One of my favorite scenes is where he comes in to apologize to John Cleese, and finds a robber in Cleese's home, assaults the robber, then realizes it is Cleese himself, and says, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," then starts saying, "How was I supposed to know it was you? I mean, what kind of person robs their own home? Hey, yeah, what kind of person robs their own home, you idiot!" And he starts to kick him. It shows how much of a problem this guy has. Another one of my favorites is just about anytime he and Michael Palin are on screen. Otto's mimicking of Ken ("K-k-ken's c-c-c-coming to k-k-k-kill me!") ranks high as a gut-grabber. But just about any scene with the two men is hilarious.

The script is nice, and doesn't go overboard at anytime. But I still think the film is a bit overrated.

I laughed, I had fun, but it wasn't one of the most memorable comedies I've ever seen. I've seen much better, to tell you the truth.
Movie Guru Rating
An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater.
  4 out of 5 stars

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