tek's rating:

A Fish Called Wanda (R)
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This came out in 1988. I think I first saw it sometime in the late 90s, but I don't remember for sure. And until I watched it again in 2017, I didn't remember any details of the plot or characters, but I was fairly sure I hadn't particularly liked it the first time I saw it. This time... I dunno. It had a number of moments that I thought were pretty funny, but most of the time I thought it was just sort of okay. And there were definitely some bits that were not to my taste at all. I know it was quite well-received by critics, and probably a lot of fans. (Or maybe it's more of a cult film.) Anyway, it has a very good cast, and I really wanted to like it more than I did. And I probably did like it more the second time I saw it, but not much more, I'm afraid.

Anyway... it's set in London, where there's a gangster named George, who has planned a diamond heist with his American lover, Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis), and a henchman named Ken (Michael Palin). Rounding out the group is another American named Otto (Kevin Kline), whom Wanda claims is her brother, but who is actually her lover. After the heist, Wanda and Otto double-cross George by anonymously turning him in to the police. But after he goes to jail, they discover that George had moved the diamonds to a new hiding place. Wanda figures that George will tell his barrister, Archie (John Cleese), where he hid the diamonds. So she starts an affair with Archie in the hopes of learning from him where the jewels are. (Archie is married to a woman named Wendy, with whom he has a daughter named Portia, but the two of them are of little importance to the plot.) Meanwhile, Ken is supposed to kill an elderly woman who had witnessed the gang during their getaway immediately after the heist. And that's all I want to reveal of the plot.

A lot of the film's humor comes from various characters' distinctive personality traits or tics, like the fact that Ken stutters, and is an animal lover. (The latter fact figures prominently in both a comedic and tragic way, during his attempts to kill the old woman. It's also the source of the film's title, because he has a tank full of fish, his favorite of which is called Wanda.) There's also the fact that Wanda (the human one) is aroused by foreign languages. And that Otto hates being called stupid; he apparently reads a lot of philosophy, but doesn't understand it as well as he thinks. And... I dunno. All of the characters have moments that I find funny, but I also must say that most of the time I found Otto incredibly annoying. (Another running gag is that he likes calling people "asshole," which is ironic, because there's basically not a single moment in the film when he's not being the biggest asshole around.) Anyway, I guess I don't know what else to say. Oh, except that I could almost as easily place the movie in the "weird" category as crime or comedy films, but... meh. Maybe it's not quite as weird as it is funny, despite how ridiculous it is.

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