Jamie Lee Curtis

A Fish Called Wanda (1988) - Charles Crichton

CLEVER BRITISH COMEDY
★★★

Director: Charles Crichton
ProduceR: Michael Shamberg
Writer: John Cleese
Starring:
John Cleese
Jamie Lee Curtis
Kevin Kline
Michael Palin
Music by John Du Prez
Cinematography Alan Hume
Edited by John Jympson
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Prominent Features
Distributed by
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
United International Pictures
Release date
July 15, 1988
October 14, 1988
Running time
108 minutes
Country
United Kingdom
United States
Language
English

A Fish Called Wanda is a comedy from 1988 that was released by MGM Pictures. It’s directed by Charles Crichton and stars a lot of big names like John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Palin and Kevin Klein. The movie was an extremely popular around the time of its release. I remember my mom and her friends liking it when it came out. Unfortunately, it has faded from most people's memory in recent times.

The film is set in a relatively modern London (1987). It features two American criminal lovers Otto (Kevin Kline) and Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis), who are planning to double-cross their boss George Thomason (Tom Georgeson) and his right hand man, Ken (Michael Palin), following a jewel heist that would get them over ten thousand British pounds. The plan involves a schlub British barrister (John Cleese), that gets involved with Wanda eventually driving this entire plan off a cliff. Hilariously.

The entire project started as a discussion between John Cleese and veteran director Charles Crichton back in 1969. The two had wanted to work together, but couldn’t come up with a viable plan. However, that desire to work alongside one and other never died, and in 1987 the two linked up to begin work on A Fish Called Wanda. A fantastic mix of smart comedy and great character work from a tremendous cast. The film direction is sold considering MGM had their doubts with the 78 year old director. Although John Cleese was alongside and picked up a Co-Direction credit.

This is a movie that I would definitely recommend to anyone looking for something smart to laugh at. John Cleese and Michael Palin are known for their work in the Monty Python series. However, this is a pretty far jump from that comedy troupe. I had a great time watching it and I think you would too. It’s not obscene or raunchy, but entertaining and clever. A damn fine movie that shouldn’t be forgotten.

Trading Places (1983) - John Landis

GOOD HOLIDAY COMEDY 80/100

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Trading Places is a comedy film from 1983. It was directed by John Landis and had an all-star cast including Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy and Jamie Lee Curtis. It’s a loose and modernized take on the Mark Twain tale The Prince and the Pauper. It isn’t just a great comedy, Trading Places is a great movie. It satirizes our society so accurately and relevantly. And it does so with charm. I’ve been a fan of this movie since first seeing it as a kid. My friends and I grew up quoting it in the schoolyard. This high-quality film pairs masterfully with the holiday season especially with a bit of spiced wine.

Mortimer (Don Ameche) and Randolph Duke (Ralph Bellamy) are two old and greedy entrepreneurs. They are brothers that own and run the commodities brokerage firm of Duke and Duke. They are horrible rich bullies that play games with young executives at their firm. They make a bet for one dollar to take a snooty, up-and-coming investor, Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd), and trade his everyday life with a destitute conman, Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy). Louis is framed for theft and drug abuse, destroying his life and forcing him into the care of a crass prostitute, Ophelia (Jamie Lee Curtis). Valentine is picked up by Duke and Duke and dropped into Winthorpe’s old life. He goes from a street conman to a well adjusted young businessman. Louis vows revenge on the Dukes and Valentine for stealing his old life.

This is my favorite comedy of the eighties. It never ceases to make me laugh. Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd are in top form. The content of their jokes is a bit dated, but it doesn’t take away from the hilarity. Both do a tremendous job. I loved watching a snooty Dan Aykroyd. “... Oh sure, like he went to Haaarvard.” is just one of his amazing lines. Aykroyd just plays a scummy character so well. Jamie Lee Curtis was great too. She broke away from the scream queen moniker that followed her since Halloween. The role of Ophelia gave her the opportunity to broaden her range as an actress.

I cannot recommend Trading Places enough. It’s hilarious, and it has a good story. The racial and sexual jokes are a bit harsh for our society today, but they shouldn’t detract from the entertainment of the picture overall. We love rags-to-riches stories that are set in a world we know. Even with the heavy handed, pro-capitalist nature of the film. If you can look past that you will see one of the greatest comedy films of the eighties.

Trading Places (80)

A fantastic comedy from Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd. A bit dated, but still highly entertaining and perfect for the holiday season.

DIRECTOR

JOHN LANDIS

PRODUCER

AARON RUSSO

WRITER

TIMOTHY HARRIS
HERSCHEL WEINGROD

STARRING    

DAN AYKROYD
EDDIE MURPHY
RALPH BELLAMY
DON AMECHE
DENHOLM ELLIOTT
JAMIE LEE CURTIS

STUDIOS

CINEMA GROUP VENTURES
EDDIE MURPHY PRODUCTIONS
PARAMOUNT PICTURES

RELEASE DATE

JUNE 8, 1983

RUNNING TIME

116 MINUTES

COUNTRY

UNITED STATES

BUDGET    $15 MILLION
BOX OFFICE    $90.4 MILLION