I love this movie. Take a couple of ex-Pythons, add Jamie Lee Curtis, a mind-bending performance from Kevin Kline, and an old-school madcap caper plot and ... you can't lose? I had to buy it after stumbling over a YouTube documentary about the making of the film. John Cleese apparently wrote it, and thought of Kevin Kline for the Otto character after they worked together on Silverado (this led to my also buying Silverado, but let's not go down that rabbit-hole for the moment).
Yes, Wanda's got a slightly dated 80's vibe -- the music cues are pretty on the nose, and there are couple of insensitive jokes that wouldn't fly today. But the cast is amazing top to bottom, anchored by Kevin Kline, who won a darkhorse Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his crazed portrayal of ex-CIA killer Otto. You can see Cleese's satirical mind at play, skewering Anglo / American relations left and right. Cleese's sober barrister character lives in mortal fear of embarrassment, so of course he falls for a pretty American criminal and finds himself dancing naked in front of a family on vacation. Kline's Otto is a pastiche of over-the-top American symbolism -- simultaneously a dangerous physical powerhouse, an egomaniacal pervert, and a self-styled intellectual who doesn't quite get there (Otto, having just been called an ape: "Apes don't read PHILOSOPHY!" Wanda: "Yes, they do, Otto. They just don't understand it."). Whenever confused or out of options, he whips out a gun and attempts to shoot the problem.
And so on. Michael Palin brilliantly serves up some of the broadest comedy in the film as an animal-loving crook with a stutter (I mentioned the insensitive jokes? "It's K-K-Ken, c-c-coming to k-kill me!"). Jamie Lee Curtis has great (perhaps under appreciated) comedy chops of her own, and brings charm and intelligence to what could have been a by-the-numbers con-woman role. Maria Aitken as Cleese's character Archie's wife handily owns a scene with Kline, which (per the documentary) she partly ad-libbed.
Quotes and scenes from A Fish Called Wanda still pop into my head unbidden on a regular basis. To a degree, the movie is a really string of brilliant comedic bits, but the caper story holds it together well enough, and I approve of the slightly sunnier ending that was apparently retrofitted when American audiences didn't care for the darker one Cleese had in mind. I bought it because it's worthy of regular re-watching, and I don't feel that way about many films.
Five stars for a real comedy classic.