A Fish Called Wanda (1988) is a relatively well-known John Cleese film starring Cleese, fellow Python Michael Palin, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Kevin Kline. It’s the story of a bunch of unlikable people manipulating each other to get their way…and they succeed. Fierce Creatures (1997) is Wanda‘s more obscure younger brother with exactly the same cast and essentially the same plot, the only difference being that in one film, Kevin Kline’s sleazy character gets away with it while in the other his sleazy character gets run over by Michael Palin driving a steam roller. I’ll leave you with the suspense of not knowing which is which.
In A Fish Called Wanda, Wanda (Curtis) manipulates all the male buffoons by using her allure. She positions both psychotic robber Otto (Kline) and under-sexed English barrister Archie (Cleese) to get away with the stolen money, planning to run away with whichever is successful, though her treatment of Otto toward the end suggests she had a preference all along. Meanwhile, stammering animal-lover Ken (Palin) spends the film on a tangential mission to assassinate an old lady. The film has no intention on illustrating justice. Sometimes villains win and we’re not bothered by it. Hilarious chaos and misunderstandings are tangled within the plot, making A Fish Called Wanda the quintessential British comedy.
In Fierce Creatures, Willa (Curtis) manipulates the male head honchos into taking over the zoo. In order to save the zoo and her silverback gorilla companion, she navigates around obnoxious rich boy Vince (Kline) who plasters liquor advertisements onto the tigers, and uppity English businessman Rollo (Cleese) who makes a show of “shooting” a gaggle of fluffy animals to show the zookeepers who’s boss. Meanwhile, the zookeepers–including tarantula-toting motor-mouth Bugsy (Palin)–try to prove how fierce even the most docile zoo inhabitants are with the hopes that Rollo will consider them interesting enough to keep on board. The film has even less interest in justice than its predecessor, but at least fewer animals are murdered in this storyline. Hilarious chaos and mixed identities tangle the plot to an almost unrecognizable maze of intentions, resolving the issue of why you haven’t heard of this film before. Well, that and all the fart jokes.
Jaime Pond is the editor of Anglonerd. She lives and works in NYC. Follow her on Twitter.
Originally posted July 6, 2015