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Fierce Creatures

Starring John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline
and Michael Palin
Directed by Robert Young and Fred Schepisi

Cranky wishes this review of Fierce Creatures had sound attached so you could hear his imitation of a posturing John Cleese, which is rather good:

"Right, then, let's get on with it. Ladies and Gentlemen: welcome to the Marwood Zoo and all of today's festivities. Today, for your viewing pleasure, we will take all the fuzzy wuzzy cutesy cuddly animals and shuffle them off this mortal coil. We do this because profits are well below the 20% minimum required by our corporate bosses, and we have no life other than this job, and we would like to keep both. In short order, then, we will bash in some bunny brains; lynch the lemurs; pummel penguins; slaughter sea lions; whip the walrus; filet all the fish (we have dozens of varieties from 'gold' all the way down to 'lead' -- 'What's that?' you say? You've never seen a lead fish? -- well, of course you haven't seen a lead fish, we've killed them all! Gutted the guppies, too. Those little buggers put up quite a fight. I'll give them that much). Oh, stop screaming and protesting, you gutless little twits. If you'd come to this stupid zoo in the first place, we wouldn't have had to kill the bunnies and replace them with vicious, man-eating specimens that you would only see in a Siegfried and Roy show. Well, they'd be man eaters if Siegfried and/or Roy didn't have whips. I think you get my point . . . "

. . . which pretty well sums up the main plot point of Fierce Creatures, a frantic, frenetic, and bawdy farce which has nothing whatever to do with A Fish Called Wanda, the predecessor from the same creative and thespian teams featured here. You know it's different because this time Michael Palin's character gets to speak. A lot.

If you were one of the few who did not giggle, guffaw, and/or grab your sides while watching A Fish Called Wanda, then get lost. Fierce Creatures is not for you. If you did giggle, guffaw, et cetera, then Wanda was the equivalent of a gently babbling brook. Fierce Creatures is more akin to a boulder perched on top of a mountain.

The laughs start slowly, as all sorts of situations and misrepresentations are set up, and work their way up to a torrential downpour as the final, completely ridiculous situation plays out on the movie screen. Double entendres fly lustily, and there's a nod or two to old Monty Python routines, but wisely, nothing you see on screen requires knowledge of Python or Wanda or any previous work. Hilarity takes center stage, and Cleese, Curtis, Palin, Kline, and Kline (I'll get to it) let all five barrels rip.

Kevin Kline has the most fun in the dual role of an Australian-accented corporate mogul, Rod McCain, and his American-accented lecherous son, Vince. Vince could care less about work because his daddy is rich; he steals from every job he's supervised; and his eye is on Willa Weston (Jamie Lee Curtis), who is poured into every expensive and body hugging outfit she can get her hands on. Willa is the new suit on the corporate staff of Octopus, Inc., and discovers on her first day of employment that she has no job, as her position vanished in an overnight corporate sale. Business being business, Willa picks from a shopping list of available corporate lodgings and finds herself in Britain running a zoo, which she thinks she can turn into a theme park. But she finds herself attracted to zoo director Rollo Lee (John Cleese), a man with exceptionally kinky, so she thinks, sexual proclivities. Cleese, in reality and on the other hand, is more like a monk than anything else, and believes this middle management gig is his last shot. Michael Palin plays an animal keeper whose verbiage spews like an erupting volcano. (In other words, he can't keep his mouth shut.) As always love -- and a bullet or two -- conquers all. Unless, of course, it doesn't. John Cleese co-wrote the film with Wanda partner Iain Johnstone, and based it on several ideas, including an unwritten Python skit by Palin and Terry Jones. When principal shooting concluded, Palin was off to Siberia. Make of it what you will.

In good farce no two characters see the same situation in the same way, until a climactic blowout. By that definition, Fierce Creatures is more than good farce. Fierce Creatures is sexy, funny, and all quite ridiculous. It's a helluva lot of fun.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Fierce Creatures, he would have paid . . .


Best comedy I've seen all month.

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