Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Fish Called Wanda

Charles Crichton (and uncredited John Cleese), 1988 (8.5*)
A sparkling comedic cast help push this heist satire over the top into rarified waters. There aren’t many crime comedies worth watching more than once, this is one of them.

John Cleese (of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers fame) plays a judge who falls for the wiles of American con-artist Jamie Lee Curtis, who seduces him to order help pull a con on some British partners in crime (without Cleese’s knowledge). Her supposed brother, but partner in crime, is brilliantly played to mucho laughs by an Oscar®-winning Kevin Kline. He is really her dumb boyfriend, whose recurring line is “Don’t call me stupid!”, because he is the proverbial knot-on-a-log thick.

They enlist the aid of inside man Ken, played by another former Python member Michael Palin, with a wonderful stutter (“Ka-ka-ka-Ken!”), who’s a doting owner of an overloved pet fish named Wanda, hence the title. Yes, there's often offensive humor in this, but it's still sedate compared to Python, no gushing arteries or chunk hurling here.

Some of the best stuff to come from the Python group, likely because the Jones-Gilliam silliness is tempered by the veteran direction of master British director Charles Crichton, who directed the classic The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) bw.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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