Film Review: A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

A Fish Called Wanda is about a jewel heist that goes unsuccessful because people involved in the heist try to deceive each other to get his/her hand on the jackpot. The film starred John Cleese, Kevin Kline, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Michael Palin.

I had been considering watching ‘A Fish Called Wanda’ for some time. And I am glad that I did and unsurprisingly the film didn’t fall below expectations. Why would it? The film was produced and the story and the screenplay were written by John Cleese. This film and its spiritual successor Fierce Creatures are the only film projects that Cleese put money on. Maybe it was his passion project and the film did meet critical acclaim and acceptance from the general audience. Not only that, the film earned three Oscar nominations and bagged one win in Kevin Kline for Best Supporting Actor. Just guessing that it would have been quite a milestone to see a comedy film reaching the Oscars. Usually, comedy films are not considered but it doesn’t get the credibility of their being worthy to reach there.

But by all sorts, this film is a classic example of a comedy with an excellent story. There were so many twists in the continuity and made the film interesting with the comic timings. I do feel that the sexual element was just too pressing.

I think the film has some madness of black humor where the jokes played upon animals looked creepy. Somewhere, there was fresh dirt of horror in the director’s mind to play in the black humor. Just, for example, Ken mistakenly killing all of Mrs. Eileen’s dogs, Otto eating Ken’s fish from the aquarium, etc. It wasn’t normal at all but looked funny.

This was Charles Crichton‘s final directional film and he got nominated for Best Director at the Oscars. I do not believe if the direction was that spectacular because there were plotholes. Nor do I believe that Kevin Kline should have been nominated, forget about winning the Oscar. Michael Palin deserved to be nominated. He had the standout performance amongst all. His facial performances have always been impressive since Monty Python times and in the film, he showed the audience why is he so good. His stuttering performance and many of his scenes were brilliant.

A Fish Called Wanda is surely one of those few British-American films where the American audience wholeheartedly accepted British humor. The film will be remembered for its comic timings and a well-written screenplay. A comedy film that was fresh and exciting to the mainstream.

Ratings: 7/10