A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

Remote Brits

I watched this recently, and also saw it when it was new. At the time, I suppose it was funny. Now I do not, and I think perhaps it is because the center of gravity for humour has changed.

Each of the Pythonista’s had a particular strength. Together, they were terrific, or at least they would be a few times in their show. Of the men, I think Palin was the one with the talent for the absurd, and Gilliam the talent for presentation. Cleese simply made funny people and had them exist long enough for us to laugh. What they did was not all that important.

What he does here is precisely the same, enlisting Kline and Curtis because they really can make faces and say discrete lines.

Many of the jokes are about British remoteness and the sexiness that Jamie Lee finds in any language but English. Its funny in a way, but what is wrong with this, is just that remoteness. Cleese’s setup works for skits, not long form. For him to sustain a movie, he has to introduce some humanness, some narrative. He does it from a distance; it is there, but we can hardly see it and it doesn’t seem connected.

You can overlook this sort of thing if the jokes are truly funny. Except for the killed dogs, and especially the body humour of the old lady on the third death, these simply aren’t.

The story is about Wanda, her opportunism and guile. She is the fish, and there is a unique sort of folding here between woman and fish that I just do not fathom. They both have a key and swim?

I will go and look again at “Time Bandits”. I think there is a world there.

Posted in 2009

Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.


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