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File:Fish called wanda 3020.jpg

Fish on poster may be deceptively sexy. You have been warned.


Otto: "You know your problem? You don't like winners."
Archie: "Winners?"
Otto: "Winners."
Archie: "Winners like... North Vietnam?"


A Fish Called Wanda is a 1988 British comedy film starring Kevin Kline, Jamie Lee Curtis, John Cleese and Michael Palin. The film is the final--and best known--film of legendary British comedy director Charles Crichton and its screenplay was written by Cleese and Crichton.

The film features a gang of criminals who double-cross each other and involves the comedic use of a steamroller.

Nominated for the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, the film is literally lethally funny (see below). Kline, who plays the eccentric thief Otto in the film, won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, a rare accomplishment for a comedic performance.

There are actually two characters called Wanda in the film. One is a fish. The other is Jamie Lee Curtis.

Later followed by a not-sequel with the same cast, Fierce Creatures.

Tropes used in A Fish Called Wanda include:

Otto: I love watching your ass when you walk! Is that beautiful or what? Don't go near him, he's MINE!

  • Femme Fatale: Wanda, who is planning on stabbing every guy she gets involved with in the back (even Otto — when they think the loot is safely locked in the safe at the lock-up, she's seconds away from koshing Otto and running off with it before they realize it's empty). Then she ends up falling in love with Archie for real.
  • Freudian Slip: "They're so fucking lawyer--uh, superior", as well as Archie's "Wanda" and "Darling!" in the courtroom scene.

Judge: Mr. Leach... Darling?
Archie: Yes, sweetie?


Archie: You are a true vulgarian, aren't you?
Otto: You're the vulgarian, you fuck!


Otto: Don't call me stupid!
Wanda: Oh, right! To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people!


Wanda: "Now let me correct you on a couple of things, okay? Aristotle was not Belgian. The central message of Buddhism is not 'Every man for himself.' And the London Underground is not a political movement. Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up."

  • Large Ham: Kevin Kline gleefully chews the scenery in the movie, winning an Oscar in the process.
  • Laughably Evil: Again, Otto.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Jamie Lee Curtis
  • Mutilation Interrogation: The fish tank scene.
  • Nervous Wreck: Ken.
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: Otto, literally.
    • Ironically, he seems to be more knowledgable about the subject then most other wannabes, and indeed it seems to be the one thing he isn't a Small Name, Big Ego about.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: "Have mercy, O Lord, the dog is dead".
  • One Mario Limit: This trope (or the reaction to its aversion) is one of the many examples of Otto's stupidity. When he hears that Archie's daughter is named Portia (a homophone of "Porsche"), he asks why on earth he would name her after a car.
  • Ordered Apology
  • Plethora of Mistakes: The robbery goes off without a hitch. After that...
  • Rule of Three: Otto is repeatedly involved in car crashes or near crashes, the first two times running the same dark red car off the road, and the third time having a minor collision with a light blue car - at the same time alerting Archie that Otto is escaping with his car. In each occasion he calls the other driver an asshole, followed - or preceded in the actual crash - with a metallic crunching noise. (Being an American, he keeps forgetting to drive on the left.)
  • Running Gag: "ASSHOLE!"
  • Shout-Out/Genius Bonus: John Cleese's character is called Archie Leach, which was Cary Grant's real name.
  • Sleeping Single (See Unfair Sex below)
  • Speech Impediment: Ken's, much mocked by Otto.

"Look, it's K-k-k-Ken, c-c-c-c-coming to k-k-k-k-kill me! How are you gonna c-c-c-c-catch me, K-k-k-k-ken??"

    • Michael Palin researched stuttering extensively so as to not needlessly offend stutterers in the name of comedy.
      • Palin's father had a stammer, and Palin himself helped set up the Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children in London. He is Vice President of the charity Action for Stammering Children.
  • Stealth Pun: Most movies have "The End". This one has "Fin".
    • "Fucking Limey cement!"
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: Archie.
  • Tap on the Head: "Ciao, stupidissimo!"
  • Too Dumb to Live: How did someone as stupid as Otto ever work for the CIA?
    • Like most things, he's probably lying.
  • The Unfair Sex: Subverted with Archie and his wife.
  • Unpronounceable Alias: Mr. Manfrenjensen...den
    • Made hilarious when the person it's being given to goes on to pronounce it perfectly.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: During the character introductions, the film cuts back to George's flat just as he's finished explaining his plan, so we only get to hear about "the middle bit... about the police". The rest of the plan goes off almost without a hitch.
  • Video Credits: Over the opening credits, to introduce the main players.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Archie & Wanda (and Ken) get their happily ever afters, while Otto goes to work for the South African government... but they just left George sitting in jail.
    • They didn't explicitly reveal what happened to him, but Archie told George that Wanda's statements in court meant that he was now certain to be jailed for a long time, and that only implicating Wanda, Ken and Otto in the robbery could reduce the sentence. Since Archie never brought them to account, we can assume that George got the original, very long sentence.
      • Then again, since it was quite apparent that his barrister was having a "relationship" with the key witness, it's possible that a mistrial could've been declared.
  • Where Are They Now? Epilogue: Parodied: Archie & Wanda move to Rio, have 17 kids, and fund a leper colony; Ken becomes Master of Ceremonies at London Sea World; Otto emigrates to South Africa (in the late 80s) and becomes Minister of Justice.
  • William Telling: In the bank heist in the beginning, as the four thieves are about to get away with their bank heist, Otto pulls an apple out of his sack and places it on a bystander's head. He readies his crossbow, scaring the bystander, but he's stopped by Wanda (not the fish) before he can pull the trigger.