Saturday, July 21, 2012

Capsule Review: A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

Charles Crichton, an Ealing veteran who helmed The Lavender Hill Mob back in 1951, was nearing 80 when he directed A Fish Called Wanda, but his mastery of tone and pacing is a big part of what makes the film - from a script by star John Cleese - work so beautifully. The international cast includes Cleese as a married, upper-class lawyer who gets increasingly involved with Jamie Lee Curtis' Wanda, after she's part of a diamond heist. The robbery was masterminded by Georges (Tom Georgeson) who only trusts the stuttering, animal loving Ken (Michael Palin), while Wanda and her lover (posing as her brother) Otto (Kevin Kline) continually try to find ways to get the loot for themselves. Perhaps surprisingly, the humor strays far away from the often surreal humour of Python, preferring instead to put the quirky cast in a variety of compromising, farcical situations. It's often hilarious, and played perfectly by the able cast - particularly Kline, who does some of his best work. Much of the cast reunited for 1997's Fierce Creatures, but faltered without Crichton steering the ship.

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