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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Caper > Mystery > A Fish Called Wanda - 2-Disc Collector's Edition (DVD-Video)

A Fish Called Wanda - 2-Disc Collector's Edition (DVD-Video)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: A     Film: B+



Adeptly blending British and American humor, A Fish Called Wanda became the sleeper hit of the summer of 1988, and still holds the record (since 1982) for taking the longest amount of time (10 weeks) for a film to reach No. 1 at the American box office -- definitely the sign of a word-of-mouth success.


The brainchild of former Monty Python member John Cleese (he co-conceived the story, wrote the screenplay and was an uncredited co-director), Wanda seemed daring for a mainstream comedy at the time due to its twisted sense of humor involving things like stuttering and cruelty to animals.  Today, however, it seems much tamer -- though no less funny -- after nearly a decade's worth of increasingly raunchy gross-out comedies that came in the wake of There's Something About Mary (1998).


A Fish Called Wanda is an inspired bit of lunacy about the fallout among jewel thieves (two Americans and two Englishmen) after a multi-million-pound heist in London.  Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis) is the scheming vixen who uses overt sexuality to manipulate her three male partners, all of whom are putty in her cleavage.


Among her accomplices are Kevin Kline, who won that year's Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his lunatic performance as Otto, a dim-witted former CIA operative who thinks he's an intellectual genius; Cleese's fellow Monty Python alum Michael Palin is Ken, a stuttering animal-rights activist with a beloved pet fish also named Wanda; and Cleese himself is hilarious as Archie Leach, a barrister whose proper Englishman facade takes a beating once he becomes smitten with Wanda.


Thanks to the keen comic sensibilities of Cleese and 77-year-old director Charles Crichton (best remembered for Ealing Studios comedies such as 1951's The Lavender Hill Mob), this fish is swimming with laugh-out-loud moments.


The same group of actors and much of the same crew (minus Crichton) would later reunite to much lesser effect for the disappointingly lame Fierce Creatures (1997).


Fox/MGM's 2-disc collector's edition of A Fish Called Wanda presents the film in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen with 5.1 Dolby Digital mix.  The numerous extras include an entertaining audio commentary by Cleese, over 25 minutes of deleted and alternate scenes and a new retrospective documentary.



-   Chuck O’Leary


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