In A Fish Called Wanda, Monty Pythoners John Cleese and Michael Palin get caught up in a double-crossing crime caper with a mismatched and hilarious pair of scheming Yanks, Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline.
Though it is less tasteless, irreverent and satirical than the Python pics, film still is wacky and occasionally outrageous in its own, distinctly British way.
John Cleese is Archie Leach (Cary Grant’s real name), an uptight, respected barrister who becomes unglued when Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis), the girlfriend of a crook he’s defending, comes on to him for no apparent reason.
Curtis fakes it as an American law student looking to learn about English law when really she just wants to get information out of Cleese about some diamonds she’s recently heisted with his client George (Tom Georgeson) and two others – her ‘brother’ Otto (Kevin Kline), who’s really no relation and a stuttering animal rights freak Ken (Michael Palin), the proud owner of a fish tank and a fish named Wanda.
Cleese [scripting from a story by himself and director Charles Crichton] takes an opportunity to poke fun at something ripe for ridicule – this time, the love-hate rivalry between the Brits and the Yanks. It’s funny without being mean, since both sides gets their due. Curtis steals the show with her keen sense of comic timing and sneaky little grins and asides. Palin has too limited a role.
1988: Best Supp. Actor (Kevin Kline).
Nominations: Best Director, Original Screenplay