Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

A Fish Called WandaThis review refers to the 1998 DVD edition of "A Fish Called Wanda"(MGM)

"A Fish Called Wanda" is a fabulous romp with a group of jewel thieves, of which the term "honor among thieves" has no meaning!

At every turn, they are scheming and manipulating the events, as each wants the loot for themselves. The most scheming and manipulating of all is the lone woman of the bunch, who is also the weak spot for all the fellows. Wanda, played impeccably by Jaime Lee Curtis, has these guys falling over themselves trying to get the loot and the girl! Kevin Kline, John Cleese(who also penned the screenplay)and Michael Palin, will have you in stitches with each and every view. Every time I view it I see or hear some little detail or subtlety I didnt get previously.

Nearly 20 years later(yes fans, it's been that long), this film has not lost one bit of it's appeal for those of us that like our humor a little on the bawdy side(Although all in good fun).

But!...Give me a break MGM. This DVD is quite shabby considering the loyal fans this film has.This DVD does have a couple of things going for it. It has the choice of widescreen viewing or standard, has English, and French subtitles, for those who may need them, and includes a booklet with production notes and trivia. Also, the menu page was cute. If you click on the little treasure chest in the aquarium, the screen becomes just the "Wanda" fish swimming around with sound effects. However... as another reviewer mentioned the picture is below average. It does not live up to the reason why we don't mind paying a little extra for a DVD vs a VHS. The sound is in MONO..what's up with that? This film is deserving of at least stereo sound.

And as usual, after all of us have already purchased this now classic comedy, MGM is coming up with a new "Deluxe" edition, that is more along the lines of what is expected of a DVD.(Talk about double dipping!)It is a 2 disc edition and shows these features:

"Audio Commentary with Actor/Writer John Cleese

Over 25 minutes of Deleted and Alternate Scenes

John Cleese's First Farewell Performance

Something's Fishy Making-of Documentary

Easter Eggs, Previews, and More!"

It is available for pre-order(but doesn't list the sound available yet)The ASIN for that site is B000E33W1C.

5 stars for a film that never gets old. 3 stars to MGM for making us wait this long for a decent view.

Still laughing after all these years...Laurie

fans of the very talented Kevin Kline may also enjoy:

The Ice Storm

Grand Canyon

see my reviews for film details both are fabulous

Starting with the commonplace idea of a jewel robbery gone maniacally wrong, actor John Cleese and director Charles Crichton manage have created a madcap comedy that remains fresh, even after 10 years. George (Tom Georgeson), assisted by his girlfriend Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis), his best pal Ken (Michael Palin) and Wanda's 'brother' Otto (Kevin Kline) has orchestrated a robbery that has only one fatal flaw none of the participants have any intention of sharing the loot. In short order, double-crosses seem to grow on trees and George finds himself under arrest. It is only fitting that Wanda and Otto simultaneously discover that the jewels have been moved 'for safekeeping.'

It doesn't take very long for Wanda to figure out that her only hope of regaining the loot is through George's barrister, Archie Leach (John Cleese). Wanda works at seducing Leach while fighting of Otto's psychotic fits of jealousy. Ken, in the meantime, attempts repeatedly to kill the only witness, an elderly woman. Unfortunately, he manages to assassinate all three of her dogs in the process.

This is a set up for the combination of slapstick, vulgarity, and tongue-in-cheek comedy that British films are noted for and Americans love and it is delivered with an almost evil verve. Cleese is determined to take no prisoners, and the landscape is littered with car crashes, fallen masonry, savaged canines (fake savaged canines, please) and hapless victims. Only the fish (also called Wanda) has no funny lines, and fares no better than her companion 'Lunch' does.

The film has an R rating, which I think is exaggerated. In reality, its vulgarity and sexual innuendo are hardly noticeable when compared to what is accepted today. I certainly think teenagers can handle it without permanent damage, although you may have to explain to them that certain phrases don't bear repeating. At this price, expect a bare bones DVD. No added games, no interviews, just the film in French and English, in both wide screen and standard presentations. Even so, this is a classic comedy that will bear much watching.

Buy A Fish Called Wanda (1988) Now

NOTE: This review is about the 1998 version of the DVD. Newer releases may be better quality.


This film is definitely on my top ten list of funniest movies of all time, with "Some Like it Hot," "National Lampoons Christmas Vacation" and the Monty Python masterpieces...

But this DVD is atrocious. The soundtrack is all in the center channel... haven't heard anything worse since I gave up watching a TV with a 3 inch speaker. The theme song is burbled and warbly. There is no separation -even to the front speakers. The dialog is flat as a flitter.

The picture quality is a hair better than off the air, rabbit ear antennae reception. At times the picture is choppy and halting -as if you were watching it on a rental video that has been viewed too many times.

The only extra is the film's trailer.

Wait for a re-release before buying!

Read Best Reviews of A Fish Called Wanda (1988) Here

I love the movie "A Fish Called Wanda". It is one of my all time favorite movies. If you haven't seen it, go rent/buy it there is no better time to see it, now that it is on DVD!

Therefore, this is a review of the DVD not the movie. The DVD has a very good presentation of the movie the best you can watch at home (as mentioned above). However, the sound is lacking dull mono. Maybe this movie was originally recorded in mono, but I would be surprised.

Next there is the lack of extras you get the trailer and "cast notes" but virtually nothing else... just a dumb fish screen saver.

I don't mean to be so down on this DVD, it isn't terrible, it is just a disappointment to think of all of the unrealized potential. First of all, there is the sound. Then, there was no behind the scenes featurette, no comentaries, no deleted scenes, nothing. With Kline, Cleese, Palin and Curtis in the cast, there could have been all kinds of killer extras. But there wasn't...

At this point I would give this DVD 3 stars. However, it earns an extra star because MGM bowed to pressure and put it out in Widescreen. They originally planned on P&S only.

So thanks a lot, MGM, but now get busy on a "Collectors Edition".


Want A Fish Called Wanda (1988) Discount?

The movie is in great shape, and the extras are worth the money. The cast interviews were quite revealing. Jamie Lee tells who she thinks the best kisser was among Kline, Palin, and Cleese. And you find out if Cleese really was hung out a window or if it was just special effects. Cleese's running commentary was worth sitting through, even for me, and I usually hate those things. The deleted scenes weren't very interesting--just shots, really, not even full scenes. Overall, though, I'm very glad I bought it!

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