It’s not a sequel. Got that? the cast of A Fish Called Wanda, the 1988 classic farce that starred Monty Python vets John Cleese and Michael Palin, and Americans Jamie Lee Curtis and Oscar-winner Kevin Kline, reunites to play different loonies this time. All well and good, except that the writing and directing aren’t as deft, and the laughs are rooted more in slapstick and bodily functions than in character or emotion.
Cleese, who wrote the script with film critic Iain Johnstone, stars as Rollo Lee, the new chief of a British zoo. Rollo thinks he can boost profits for the zoo owner, Aussie mogul Rod McCain (Kline), by exhibiting only the fiercest creatures and terminating the cute and cuddly. The policy infuriates the zoo keepers, especially the motormouthed insect handler Bugsy Malone (Palin).
Rod’s playboy son, Vince (also played by Kline), hates his bossy dad and plots revenge with Willa Weston (Curtis), a sexy exec who inexplicably falls for the doughy Rollo.
With this cast, you are guaranteed moments of inspired lunacy. It’s still fun watching Cleese get caught with his pants down. But the material seems familiar and overworked. And director Robert Young (Splitting Heirs) is no substitute for Wanda’s Charles Crichton, a veteran of such crack Ealing comedies as The Lavender Hill Mob. Fred Schepisi (Roxanne) was called in to direct a new ending when Young had other commitments. Wanda had similar problems with resolution but rode through on the strength of its wild comic spirit. Fierce Creatures, the title be damned, is curiously tame.