Anthony's Film Review

A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

Performances by a memorable cast in the context of a hysterically written plot...

A Fish Called Wanda is a very funny movie. It's funny because of both the plot and characters. If you want a great comedy, you often need both of those elements to work together. Usually, a comedy is only somewhat funny when the story is funny but the characters are not. The same is true for a comedy with funny characters but an unfunny situation. Now, if you have funny characters in funny situations, that's good, because one reinforces the other in an ongoing cycle.

For this movie, consider what you have. Four people plan to steal diamonds from a bank in London. The woman of the group is Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis), an American who derives sexual arousal from spoken foreign languages. The mastermind is George (Tom Georgeson), who is Wanda's boyfriend but only because she pretends to love him. Another man is Otto (Kevin Kline), posing as Wanda's brother but is really Wanda's dimwitted lover. Lastly, you have Ken (Michael Palin), an animal-loving hitman with a major stuttering problem. As you can see, you got a pretty funny group of people here trying to rob a bank.

As for the plot, it starts with a typical bank heist. Then we find that Wanda and Otto want to take the diamonds for themselves, only to find that the diamonds that were stashed earlier have disappeared. It turns out that George and Ken have their own plot to keep the fortune for themselves. Now that's a funny setup. From there, Wanda and Otto try to outsmart George and Ken. The first thing Wanda does is to seduce George's lawyer, a proper British gentleman named Archie (John Cleese).

With any kind of movie, the story has to constantly maintain interest. If it's a comedy, it has to be constantly funny. A Fish Called Wanda does a great job of this because it takes advantage of Murphy's Law. It's the one saying that anything that could go wrong will go wrong. That's exactly what happens in this movie and the reason why it's hysterical. Thanks to the clever script by John Cleese, the events are arranged so that things go wrong in very interesting ways. When they do, the funny side of each character really comes out.

The end result is a clever comedy that is guaranteed to make you laugh. It's the kind of movie where many people can identify at least one favorite scene. For me, I have several: Wanda hiding in Archie's house, Otto getting angry with Archie, the old lady with three little dogs, and the torture scene. Because of this, many lists compiling the best comedies have included A Fish Called Wanda. If you love comedies and you have not seen this movie, go check it out. You will be glad you did.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about A Fish Called Wanda, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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