A Fish Called Wanda (1988)






John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, Michael Palin, Maria Aitken, Tom Georgeson, Patricia Hayes, Cynthia Cleese, Geoffrey Palmer, Roger Brierley, Llewellyn Rees, Stephen Fry, John Bird


Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis) and her boyfriend Otto (Kevin Kline) are in England to plot alongside George (Tom Georgeson) and Ken (Michael Palin) the robbery of a diamond collection. Since they want the stolen goods for themselves, Wanda and Otto inform the police about George, not knowing that he has already moved the diamonds to another secret place, and Wanda thinks the best way to find out is by getting close to George's lawyer, Archie Leach (John Cleese).


Outrageously hilarious and clever, and with a solid cast, A Fish Called Wanda is a classic comedy that is the perfect mix of British and American humor.

Brilliantly written by Charles Crichton and John Cleese, the screenplay works on a lot of different levels - the heist, the romantic comedy, the eternal conflict between Brits and Americans, the hitman -, it is full of both British and American humour - so to please a bigger audience - and is enriched with ridiculous situations, misunderstandings and puns that make the film a real pleasure.

The characters are pure genius. Wanda is a sexy and seductive American who seduced men to get from them what she needs, only to backstab them in the future. Archie Leach is the well-mannered English lawyer whose marriage is in crisis, and vents his sexual desires with Wanda. Ken is a shy, stuttering hitman who is secretly in love with Wanda, and tenderly loves animals. And then there is Otto, the American with a deep aversion to the word 'stupid', an immeasurable obsession with Buddhist meditation and Nietzsche's philosophy - that doesn't even understand because too stupid - and his uncontrollable hatred towards the British.

The film is packed with exhilarating scenes, but some of the most memorable are Otto torturing Ken, ramming french fries up his nose and chomping down his beloved fishes; Archie's striptease that accidentally puts him in the situation to be naked in front of a couple and their children; Ken's revenge in the finale.

The acting is solid like a stone. John Cleese is excellent in the role of lawyer Archie Leach, Jamie Lee Curtis unleashes all her friendliness to play Wanda, Michael Palin does a great job in the role of Ken, but Kevin Kline is unarguably standing out as he rocks the show as Otto. 

Reasons you should watch and like the film in a nutshell: direction, screenplay, and performances.


Wanda: I was dealing with something delicate, Otto. I'm setting up a guy who's incredibly important to us, who's going to tell me where the loot is and if they're going to come and arrest you. And you come loping in like Rambo without a jockstrap and you dangle him out a fifth-floor window. Now, was that smart? Was it shrewd? Was it good tactics? Or was it stupid?
Otto: Don't call me stupid.
Wanda: Oh, right! To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people! I've known sheep that could outwit you. I've worn dresses with higher IQs. But you think you're an intellectual, don't you, ape?
Otto: Apes don't read philosophy.
Wanda: Yes they do, Otto. They just don't understand it. Now let me correct you on a couple of things, OK? Aristotle was not Belgian. The central message of Buddhism is not "Every man for himself." And the London Underground is not a political movement. Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up.


  1. This is a movie I really want to revisit. I remember attempting to watch it in high school, finding it painfully dull and falling asleep. I've always meant to go back and give it another try, but I always forget about it. I'm adding it to my Netflix queue right now.

  2. Yeah, me too Karen. I've totally forgotten about this film. I remember seeing it when I wa about 17, and just thinking it was mediocre. I'll give it another go.