If there is one thing I’ve learned about British humor is that it doesn’t always translate to American culture. Sure Monty Python had plenty of success but sometimes the wit just goes over my head. With that said, plenty of TV shows as well as books have transitioned well to the states so there is some promise. And luckily “A Fish Called Wanda” makes a successful trip.
The film focuses on a group of thieves who steal diamonds and try to double-cross each other in order to get away with all of it. When the plans backfire and one is arrested, all hell begins to break loose…in a funny way of course. As what should be apparent in the title, Wanda is the main female in this film as she draws the gazes of many of the men including Otto. Together they try to find out where the diamonds have been moved.
Now in order to achieve this, Wanda “seduces” Barrister Archie Leach who is stuck in a mostly loveless marriage. You assume it’s all just an act but start to see hints that it could be something more. Otto gets jealous and it leads to plenty of funny conflicts which helps carry the movie to the end where even the originally chivalrous Archie is now searching for the diamonds.
What makes British comedies special is that they usually keep things a little unorthodox. In fact you need the characters to be wacky in order for it to work. You have a female who is turned on by different accents, an animal lover with a terrible stutter, and a guy who can’t stand to be called stupid. Together it makes for a good cast.
Jamie Lee Curtis leads as Wanda who is very attractive and, like I mentioned earlier, everyone falls in love with. She actually helps turn cordial Archie who is the classic John Cleese character. An awkward Barrister, Archie just never seems comfortable anytime in the movie except for maybe the very end. Together these two actors do a great job of portraying the “couple” of the movie.
But the star has to be Kevin Kline as Otto who is the epitome of an erratic character. At one point he seems calm and collected before then losing his mind over someone threatening his intelligence. Couple that with his diabolical demeanor towards Ken (who has a funny bit with an old woman throughout) as well as his blatant Americanism and you come up with the real humor of the film. Sure it was a little extreme at points but those classic “asshole” lines always got a laugh out of me.
Look if you’re not into British humor, “A Fish Called Wanda” may not be up your alley. While it’s definitely more Americanized than others, it still has that classic outrageously English charm. Sure it’s not the funniest movie I have ever seen but it’s definitely worth a watch. Let’s just hope Dan doesn’t recommend too many of these movies or it could get rough real fast.