Fierce Creatures (1997)
Though it features the same cast as 1988's highly successful A Fish Called Wanda, this satirical and sexy film is not a sequel, and the actors play entirely different characters. Most of the story occurs in London's fictional Marwood Zoo, which has just been purchased by New Zealand publishing-magnate Vince McCain (Kevin Kline), a character allegedly patterned after real-life Australian media powerhouse Rupert Murdoch. No matter what public venture he buys, McCain's Octopus, Inc. adheres to a strict bottom line -- 20% profit or else. Comely Willa Weston (Jamie Lee Curtis) has just come to work for McCain, but the division she was supposed to helm was sold just before she arrived. In search of another division, she spies the zoo and decides to run it. Meanwhile, as the zoo is relatively unprofitable, McCain sends one of his top corporate policemen, Rollo Lee (John Cleese) to turn it into a moneymaker. Rollo decides that the zoo needs to become a sexier, more exciting place by imbuing it with a "Sylvester Stallone movie" ambiance. In short, he wants all the cuddly creatures replaced with fearsome, dangerous ones. He demands that all the adorable lemurs, bandicoots, meercats, etc. be summarily shot. Naturally, the zoo keepers (including fast-talking Adrian "Bugsy" Malone played by Michael Palin, who spends much of his time dressed as a giant bee) nearly riot, so Rollo carries out the seemingly dirty deeds himself -- in reality all of the doomed animals are hidden in his bathroom. Shortly thereafter, McCain's sleazy son Vince (also played by Kline) and Willa arrive to find the few remaining gentle creatures covered in fake blood and phony fangs to make them look terrifying. Vince mucks things up with his own scheme, which is to incorporate advertising into the zoo. As a result, zookeepers wear corporate logos. Even the animals become living billboards. Meanwhile Vince launches a private campaign to bed the profit-attended Willa. She in turn is increasingly intrigued by the apparently bestial antics of Rollo. Every time she sees him, he seems to be in some sort of quasi-sexual situation with one of his furry roommates. The bulk of this production was originally filmed in 1995, but pre-screening audiences strongly disliked the original ending. Most of the original screenplay was written by Ian Johnstone, but Cleese rewrote the third act himself. Due to scheduling conflicts the project was shelved until the summer of 1996. By this time the original director, Robert Young, was no longer available and so was replaced by director Fred Schepisi. … More
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Critic Reviews for Fierce Creatures
A sporadically funny but very confused follow-up to A Fish Called Wanda.
If you disliked "Wanda", you'll loathe this!
Pretty funny semi-sequel to A Fish Called Wanda.
It has little of the wit and none of the bite of "A Fish Called Wanda."
close nut no banana
A misguided, neverending bellyflop of a film.
It's a pale imitation of "Wanda," but still fairly packed with giggles.
Audience Reviews for Fierce Creatures
Vince: Round here, he's known as Rod Almighty!
"Don't pet them."
What many have said is that Fierce Creatures is crap compared to the hilarious A Fish Called Wanda. I will say that even if we didn't have A Fish Called Wanda, this would still be a major disappointment. The movie just doesn't work. It's half as smart and one third as funny. The only thing it has going for it is its returning cast from Wanda. John Cleese always makes movies at least watchable and I will say that this was at least watchable.
The story takes place in a zoo where a bunch of zookeepers and its original director fight to keep it alive despite a father-son(Kevin Klein) that hurt its integrity and threaten to shut it down. There's nothing here that is at all hilarious and when its at its best, it just manages to be amusing. It all manages to seem like a cash in on Wanda, which in reality, it is.
Basically the movie recycles the same jokes throughout the movie and the sad thing is that the jokes weren't funny the first time. It's all sexual innuendo sometimes including animals and the jokes are always used in the same context; making for an extremely dull comedy. This was a disappointment in every possible way.
The formula seemed right, as it worked for the critically acclaimed, Oscar winning, laugh riot that is A Fish Called Wanda, but in this toned down, cute animal fest, the same dynamic was lacking. Though John Cleese, who is a great screenwriter as well as a comedian among men, was just as brilliant as ever, the error of casting Michael Palin as some boorish bug zoologist, and Kevin Kline as a spoiled (though it wasn't truly evident) heir to a father who is also played by Kline, was misusing the cast's talents for mediocre roles. Jamie Lee Curtis, who has played the sex centered love interest time and again, should have been given more credit in her role, which underwhelmed. It had some great potential, and there were the occasional laughs, but this just as good as the original. *Spoiler Alert-In the very last scene Cleese calls Curtis Wanda instead of Willa, which at least was a great ode to their past performances together.More
If I asked you to name a great movie starring John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline and Michael Palin, what's the first thing that comes to your minds? OK, A Fish Called Wanda. And I would say well, you're right. A Fish Called Wanda is a marvelous farcical tour de force. But it's this team-up I really prefer. Probably long forgotten by a majority of people, it's the little film that provides big laughs.
Although the core cast is the same as A Fish Called Wanda, it is not a sequel of any sorts. While the plot of A Fish Called Wanda is quite enjoyable, Fierce Creatures tries something a little different than a jewel heist-caper. The story goes thus: with an English zoo taken over by Octopus, Inc (hee hee. Little touches like that get bonus points from me. Even a bad film can score a few with things like that), the zoo is under pressure to gain more money. Rollo Lee's (John Cleese, a comedic genius who has never fallen from grace) proposition is to rid the zoo of the "cute and cuddly factor" and keep the vicious, fierce creatures since violence brings in the cash.
I want to stop the plot synopsis for a moment and comment on how much I love the theme the film is already trying to set up: the idea that people, in order to bring in the long-green/cabbage/insert own slang for money here, people rely on the primal urges of humanity. Even more relevant today, with everything supposedly going "darker and grittier". However, there are two definitions to that term. The true definition is to add a little more reality to something usually considered fantastical. Deeper characterization, making things a little more grim, bittersweet endings, that sort of thing. Watchmen is like that. It's like a deconstruction of your standard superhero comics.
The other definition, unfortunately, is the one most people latch onto: darker and edgier must mean more violence, T&A, swearing and such. No real deep, underlying themes of the complexity of human life, just guys shooting people while making out with busty blondes who use the F word every three words or so.
How does this tie in to the plot theme? Well, the second definition of darker and grittier is what Rollo relies on to sell. It takes a jab at the idea that making EVERYTHING dark is a sure-fire way to get money (after Batman Begins, the idea reared its head again). I can see it now: "Frisbee too lame now? Try Kool Extreme Frisbee, dood! It has sharp edges, is painted blood red and takes no shit from anyone! Throw it at your mother, throw it at your teachers, throw it at The Man! The Kool Extreme Frisbee has a bad attitude and lets no woman push him around! KOOL EXTREME FRISBEE! Buy it or be a lameoid!"
If anyone felt the need to gouge out their eyes after reading that, I apologize. To anyone who wants one now... what the Hell, man? Anyway, my point is, some things do not need to be dark and edgy. Which is also what the movie is trying to say, among other things. Zoos in particular do not need to resort to this kind of gimmick.
Wow, I haven't really finished explaining the plot but look how big this review has gotten. Anyway, to help oversee the new direction the zoo is taking we have the cocky Vince (Kevin Kline, who also plays Vince's father Rod and is one of the most convincing non-Australians to ever try an Australian accent) and go-getter Willa (Jamie Lee Curtis, one actress I hope isn't thinking of retiring anytime soon). The staff at the zoo are attempting to keep their jobs and resort to all sorts of antics to do so.
One such example is when the staff fake animal attacks, stating that the usually docile creatures are out for blood. Rollo is shocked at this turn of events and it seems to draw interest from the people currently at the zoo. Of course, this leads to a Fawlty Towers-esque resolution but since Cleese co-created it, you expect that kind of shout-out.
Although it's already interesting in its own rights, one further aspect I like is that one of the zookeepers (Ronnie Corbett) is trying a different approach. He's wearing a snazzy jacket, has beautiful women assisting him and his appeal is based on showmanship. While he has good intentions and is doing an admirable job, I can't help but wonder if this is another dig at the methods businesses and industries use to draw in crowds. Rather than let the animal's allure do it for him, he's appealing to baser instincts too, only not violence. Rather, he's relying on sex appeal and bright colours to appeal to the masses (OK, that one's not so much about baser instincts but it does work from an advertising standpoint. Apparently, people really love their shiny things). Again, not faulting his good intentions and his novel approach (compared to his co-workers at any rate).
While they are both very different films and I like them both, the key reason I prefer Fierce Creatures to A Fish Called Wanda is the relationship between the characters played by Jamie Lee Curtis and John Cleese. In A Fish Called Wanda, she's a jewel thief seducing his character, a lawyer, but ends up falling for him for real. Here, she's as interested in the welfare of the zoo as Rollo is and seems genuinely interested in him (though that might also be in relation to her perception of him being some sort of Lothario, in a recurring sex joke that I actually found amusing). Likewise, he grows attached to her and he's a sympathetic man, despite what the staff initially think.
There's a part early on in the film that paints him in an unfavorable light at first until the truth is revealed, which involves the staff with their animals and them forcing Rollo into something he really doesn't wish to do.
A smaller thing I owe this movie for is introducing me to a wonderful song. There's a scene in the film in which Vince tries the gimmick of celebrity endorsements and one of which is a tortoise which he says is now "Bruce Springsteen's tortoise". To that end, he plays the song Hungry Heart. Up until seeing this movie, I had never heard that song but it was so amazing that I just had to obtain it. So, to whoever decided to include that song: thank you so very much for introducing a young man to the wonders of Springsteen beyond the already rockin' Dancing In The Dark.
So, just because it's not exactly like A Fish Called Wanda doesn't mean it's any less valid. It doesn't try to be like it, it just tries to have fun. And it is a lot of fun. It's inventive, it's clever, it's funny. I really hope they get together at least one more time.
Fierce Creatures Quotes
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