A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

1h 49m / R / Comedy

It’s one of those ironclad laws of filmmaking that if a dramatic movie is to succeed, it must present its characters in a sympathetic and kind way, no matter how vile they may be. As it turns out, though, some of the funniest comedies openly hate their characters and delight in putting them through all sorts of cruel scenarios. A Fish Called Wanda despises its whole cast. Their bumbling and humiliating attempt to pull off what would seem to be a fairly straightforward jewel theft works as both commentary on the heist film genre and a knee-slapper of a comedy in its own right. The movie can’t go five minutes without calling one or the other of its principal protagonists greedy, venal, disloyal or, most frequently of all, stupid. But it’s a formula that has worked since before Laurel & Hardy first failed to move a piano, and the perfect performances of a stunning lineup (John Cleese, Kevin Kline, Jamie Lee Curtis and Michael Palin, all of whom play the whole thing entirely straight) make this crime farce a slapstick classic for the ages.

Immediately after the film, retired Tampa Bay Times film critic Steve Persall will lead a short discussion of A Fish Called Wanda and an audience Q&A. The session is included with film admission.

 

The Summer Classics Movie Series is presented by Bank of America.

Media support is provided by WEDU-PBS. Additional support is provided by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, Florida Council on Arts and Culture, the Arts Council of Hillsborough County, and the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners.