A Fish Called Wanda

A diamond heist goes wrong in this comedy menagerie of fish, dogs and Pythons.

I loved A Fish Called Wanda as a child, so it pains me that this rewatch left me with a sinking feeling. I Wanda whether I’ve been corrupted by my veganism, or Netflix has gone through removing all the jokes – either way it felt unfunny at best and cruel at worst.

It’s hard to root for anyone involved. Jamie Lee Curtis plays the title character with her usual charisma but Wanda has a manipulative streak more akin to the other JLC.

Meanwhile John Cleese portrays the smuggest barrister since Howard Schultz (as in barista… never mind) and also wrote the script, seemingly with the sole purpose of giving himself numerous sex scenes with JLC – an image almost as disturbing as that of Cleese with Lee Curtis. So convoluted is the plot that it actually seems to have been built around this fantasy.

Cleese makes himself the hero despite the slippery and adulterous nature of his character, named Archie Leach (Cary Grant’s real name) because Cleese wanted to be Grant – perhaps feeling an affinity due to his family having changed their name from Cheese.

Which brings me to the stinking treatment of Michael Palin’s animal-loving Ken, bullied by and forced into acts of violence involving said creatures because he’s low status and a stutterer. The film’s treatment of Ken is matched only by its treatment of animals, killed repeatedly for plot points and cheap laughs that tank.

The movie’s only enjoyable asset is Kevin Kline as Otto, in a typically energised performance for which he won an Oscar. Charles Crichton was also nominated for his directing, which struck me as leaden and awkward this time round.

Maybe I need to watch it again to see if that childhood fondness returns, but frankly I no longer feel Kev-in-Klined.

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