Arrow Video has released on Blu-ray the classic 1988 comedy/heist film A Fish Called Wanda starring Meryl Streep. Oh no I’m sorry, I meant John Cleese.
A Fish Called Wanda is a romantic comedy with criminal elements and is very mean spirited. The American played by Kevin Kline is stupid. Jamie Lee Curtis kisses everyone in the film but mostly John Cleese (because he wrote it). Michael Palin plays K-K-K-K-Ken the stuttering animal lover. The film is full of violence and sex and it is very naughty, well at least in an uptight British sort of way.
A Fish Called Wanda was a fairly popular movie when it was released. Kevin Kline won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar and Michael Palin won a BAFTA. John Cleese was the modern British sex symbol for years. Everyone was naming their fish Wanda after this. The film was originally released on Blu-ray in 2011 but had a poor transfer. Thankfully Arrow has put together a remastered transfer as well as including the special features from the previous release.
How much you enjoy the film has a bit to do with your sense of humor as the film is rather dry at times and absurd at others. I have found this is typical with British productions. With Palin and Cleese it does feel a bit like an extended Monty Python sketch. It’s smartly written but the broad strokes of caricature could put some modern audiences off. I won’t say that it’s a laugh out loud riot but there are plenty of chuckle worthy moments.
The dialogue is well crafted and there are multiple types of humor used (slapstick, farce, satire, etc). The characters are greedy, and manipulative. Kevin Kline’s character especially has odd ways of looking at things (i.e. he is a buddhist and meditates on violently stealing from people). The script is an interesting diatribe against the motivations of criminals and really people in general.
The booklet has this to say about the transfer:
A Fish Called Wanda has been exclusively restored for this release by Arrow Films. The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with mono and 5.1 audio mixes.
The original 35mm camera negative was scanned in 4K resolution on a pin-registered Northlight Scanner at Pinewood Studios. Picture grading was completed on a DaVinci Resolve. Picture restoration was performed using PFClean software. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches and other instances of film wear were repaired or removed through a combination of digital restoration tools and techniques. Image stability was also improved.
The audio is DTS-HD Master 5.1 and LPCM Mono and sounds like you would expect a moderately budgeted comedy from the 80’s to sound like. English subtitles are included.
- Commentary by John Cleese
- John Cleese’s First Farewell Performance – 48 minute documentary from 1988
- Something Fishy – 30 minute 15th Anniversary retrospective
- An Appreciation by Vic Pratt – 17 minutes from BFI Archivist
- Interview with Roger Murray-Leach – 7 minutes from the production designer
- On Location – 16 minutes with host Robert Powell
- A Message From John Cleese – 5 minute introduction
- Deleted and Alternate Scenes – about 30 minutes
- Image Gallery
- Trivia Track
- A 39 page booklet with essays and photos
A Fish Called Wanda Final Thoughts:
If you like A Fish Called Wanda already then this is the version to get. If you have never seen the film before but love complex dry humor then I suggest you check this one out. I really enjoyed the film but I can understand that it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If John Cleese, 80’s comedy or British humor in general make you giggle then it is certainly worth your time. Available on Amazon.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.