Movies You Simply MUST See: A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

I know many of you are scratching your heads and thinking, “Do you mean to tell me there are people who haven’t seen A Fish Called Wanda?,” and I regret to inform you that there probably are. Surely their lives are full of sadness, and it is my hope that this post will bring about a world-wide rush to see this movie, and with all that happiness floating around, could world peace really be that far behind? They’ll award me the Nobel Prize.

Seriously. Such is the power of this ridiculously funny movie. Don’t believe me? Ask the Academy, since they awarded a very, very rare acting Oscar for Kevin Kline’s brilliant comedic performance. Yep, it’s got Kevin Kline in it. And as if that weren’t enough, he is joined by Pythoners John Cleese and Michael Palin (also brilliant, IMO), as well as Jamie Lee Curtis. So of course it makes sense that this movie is comedy gold.

Wanda (Curtis) and her lover Otto (Kline) are involved in a very elaborate heist. Wanda is “dating” another individual, George (Tom Georgeson), having convinced him that Otto is actually her brother. George, Wanda, Otto, and Ken (Palin), who is also in love with Wanda, steal a diamond collection. The plan is for Wanda and Otto to double-cross George, allow him to take the fall, and make off with the diamonds. However, George doesn’t entirely trust his accomplices, and moves the diamonds to a different hiding place. In order to get information out of George, Wanda proceeds to seduce his barrister, Archie (Cleese), but ends up falling in love with him. Naturally, there are hijinks galore.

There are really no discernable flaws to this movie. The plot, though somewhat convoluted, isn’t really that hard to follow. The dialogue is fast and funny. The acting … well, you saw that cast. What could have ended up as something over-the-top in the hands of lesser talent is absolutely perfect under the capable auspices of Cleese, Curtis, Palin, and above all, Kline. Otto is a character who really ought not to be funny. He’s boorish, not very bright (but don’t call him stupid!), a wannabe intellectual; plus he’s got a nasty temper and a bit of a sadistic streak. But because he’s Kevin Kline, he. Is. Hilarious. And so is everyone else. Because this movie is seriously, seriously funny. Seriously.

You know, I’m trying to write a thoughtful piece that provides you, my dear readers, with solid reasons why you must see this movie. And I’m finding that difficult to do. It’s A Fish Called Wanda. To say that it’s awesome and you have to see it seems completely redundant. It’s like saying “Oh man, you gotta try this air stuff! You’ll feel like a million bucks!” So, let me just put it this way: Do you like movies? Do you like to laugh, and be happy? Do you have a pulse which indicates that you are, in fact, a living, breathing person with a brain? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need to see this movie. I’m not sure how much more plainly I can put it.

A last word of caution, though… I know that, after you watch this movie, you will think it is so fabulous that when you learn that there was a “sequel” (1997’s Fierce Creatures) with all of the main actors (different characters, story, etc.) you will be overjoyed and want to rush right out and see that one too, since obviously such brilliance surely cannot fail to please a second time!

You should just re-watch A Fish Called Wanda instead. I promise you won’t regret it.

7 responses to “Movies You Simply MUST See: A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

  1. I love this one, Kevin Klein is just a hoot! Plus it’s got Jamie Lee Curtis who’s a pretty darn good comedienne. I mean, even the title itself is funny!!

  2. Okay, I haven’t seen this one. I really should.

  3. Well, Mr. Manfrenjensenjen, I couldn’t agree more.

  4. One of the three funniest movies I have ever seen. I also agree that Fierce Creatures is best forgotten.

  5. …apart from the stuttering, which is outright offensive to sufferers.

    • I suppose so, although I’ve always found Palin’s performance to be incredible, and more sympathetic than laughable. Also, there have been discussions of that (I think) and he talks about modeling his stutter on his fathers’, so it’s not as though he’s really making fun since he has personal experience with what it must be like.

  6. K-k-k-Ken is c-c-c-coming to k-k-k-kill me!

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