A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

Impression: My favorite movie of all time! It’s silly, but clever, laugh out loud funny, and smart. It has a lot of elements the 12 year old me loved and still loves: rule breaking (they are bank robbers), a strong female character who plays off all the stereotypes to outwit the guys, comedy and trickery. I am a huge fan of Kevin Kline, and the character of Otto is the highlight of his career.  In it, he creates the most ridiculously amazing caricature of the stupid but full-of-himself American, and he does not hold back.  All the characters are caricatures and over the top, and it’s what makes the comedy work. Although thought up by Monty Python regulars John Cleese and Michael Palin, the movie does not veer into the surreal, but manages to stay funny and clever.  After a successfully pulled off bank robbery, the 4 participants start to form alliances with each other to trick the rest and keep the loot for themselves. The top schemer is Wanda, who keeps each guy believing she wants to run off with him and the diamonds, but as the plot develops trust is eroded and no one trusts anyone.  As the boss of the group is arrested, Wanda turns her sights on his lawyer, played by Cleese as a stereotypically stuffy upper class Englishman. “And when he heard your daughter’s name was Portia…he said, why did they name her after a car.”
But there are too many hilariously brilliant sequences to recount here. The name of this blog comes from my favorite exchange where Wanda finally gets tired of Otto’s posing as an intellectual, and calls him an ape, to which Otto retorts “Apes don’t read philosophy” and she answers with”Oh yes they do, Otto, they just don’t understand it!” I could watch this one over and over again. And I have!
Facts:  A brilliant comedy that opens with a bank robbery but it all goes gleefully wrong as the robbers try to outsmart each other to be the one that walks off with all the loot.
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