'A Fish Called Wanda: Special Edition' [Blu-ray]
(John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, Michael Palin, Stephen Fry, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1988) 2017 / Arrow Films - MVD Visual)
Overview: Cleese plays Archie Leach, a weak-willed barrister who finds himself embroiled with a quartet of ill-matched jewel thieves two American con artists played by Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline, Michael Palin's animal-loving hitman and London gangster Tom Georgeson when Georgeson is arrested.
Only he and Palin know the whereabouts of the diamonds, prompting plenty of farce and in-fighting as well as some embarrassing nudity and the unfortunate demise of some innocent pooches!
Blu-ray Verdict: As we are all well aware by now, 'A Fish Called Wanda' is a true work of comic genius. And, like any good film, the screenplay is at the heart of the belly laughs. Every character is given a detailed personality quirk or two, and then it is shamefully exploited for laugh after laugh.
Note for example, John Cleese's speech to Jamie Lee Curtis about how awful it is to be British - the eternal fear of embarrassment. Moments later, he is caught buck naked in a marital tryst in some else's flat by the people to used to live in his own home.
Also, the funny-offensive envelope is pushed to the limit when K-K-K-Ken (Michael Palin), the passionate animal lover inadvertently kills three innocent dogs in his attempt to murder an old woman who would otherwise be a prosecution witness. Now that's funny!
Cleese's character, Archie Leach (Carey Grant's real name) is a likable buffoon of a lawyer, happy in his banal existence until he meets the sexy American, Wanda (Jamie Lee). I cannot even being to describe the plot beyond that point without doing it a grave disservice. It twists and dangles about in a world of double-cross and goldfish-eating for no other reason than to set up a joke.
You cannot speak of this film without mention of Kevin Kline as Otto, a role that won him a richly-deserved Oscar. Otto is the ex-CIA "weapons man" who makes it his business to read philosophy but would be more at home with Curious George. An obsessive, self-indulgent, painfully stupid, violent, deceitful, gullible egomaniac, the character of Otto is amongst the best comedic performances ever delivered.
The film's funniest scene takes place at Leach's (Cleese) house. In a scene that rivals anything that has ever hit the screen for laughs, the film and its scripts looks deep enough into itself to even give Cleese's dry-as-toast wife a laugh or two. Then, later on, this scene proves to be the set up for even more jokes.
Ergo, 'A Fish Called Wanda' is pure comedy and every scene either provides a laugh or sets one up - it graciously does not waste our time trying to be moral or turning into a formula car-chase flick. Now released as a beautiful Special Edition Blu-ray chock full of glorious special features, if you see it and don't laugh, check your pulse! We have only been given a handful of good comedies in the last decade and this is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the very, very best. This is a Widescreen presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:
Brand-new 4K restoration from the original negative, produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
Original English mono audio (uncompressed LPCM)
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Commentary by writer and star John Cleese
Brand-new appreciation by Vic Pratt of the BFI National Archive
Brand-new interviews with composer John Du Prez, production designer Roger Murray-Leach, executive producer Steve Abbott and makeup supervisor Paul Engelen
John Cleese's Final Farewell Performance, a 1988 documentary on the making of A Fish Called Wanda featuring interviews with actors Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Palin, Kevin Kline and director Charles Crichton
Something Fishy, a 15th anniversary retrospective documentary featuring interviews with Cleese, Curtis, Kline and Palin, executive producer Steve Abbott and director of photography Alan Hume
Fish You Were Here, a documentary on the film's locations hosted by Robert Powell
24 deleted/alternative scenes with introductions by Cleese
A Message from John Cleese, a tongue-in-cheek introduction recorded for the film's original release
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Booklet featuring writing on the film by Sophie Monks Kaufman
'A Fish Called Wanda: Special Edition' [Blu-ray] will be available for purchase on October 3rd, 2017.
'A Fish Called Wanda: Special Edition' [Blu-ray] Purchase Link