Monday, September 8, 2014

Movie #270: Fierce Creatures

Fierce Creatures is a comedy starring John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, and Michael Palin - which, you might know, are the four leads from A Fish Called Wanda. Sequel? Not so much, it's what Kline called an "equal" (which it isn't), whatever that means.

So: A zoo in England is purchase by New Zealand-born media magnate Rod McCain (Kline). He installs former Hong Kong police officer Rollo Lee (Cleese) to run it, on the understanding that it, like all his acquisitions, turn a hefty profit (which it won't, because it's a zoo). Willa Weston (Curits), hired to run a TV network that Rod sold off, gets herself installed as the head of said zoo, with McCain's idiot son Vince (also Kline, in his main role) tagging along.

Lee, in his brief period as director of the zoo, institutes a policy that all animals must be (as the title suggests) fierce. This leads to some amusing scenes with the small mammals keeper (Robert Linsday) trying to convince Lee that animals like anteaters and meerkats are vicious monsters, while the loquacious insect keeper Bugsy Malone (Palin, and no, I didn't make that name up) points out that while a tarantula is harmless, it's perceived as dangerous, and if what we want is the perception of risk...

...blah. The fierce creatures initiative gets put by the wayside almost immediately, as Vince and Willa arrive to take over, and they don't care if things are fierce, so it's never mentioned again. Vince sets about selling sponsorships on the animals, while Lee is busted down to middle management and falls in love with Willa, all the while kah-razy happenstance seems to indicate that Lee is bangin' all the tail in the zoo, and we ain't just talking about the keepers.

The movie feels like a sitcom, frankly. The plot works well enough if you don't squint, the jokes are funny (and Cleese and Curtis have some fun chemistry), and the animals are cute. But there's no sense of time - events that should take weeks happen in a day, and the ending is contrived as hell. Interestingly, the ending was reshot long after the original cut debuted (and was found unsatisfying, but I have no idea what the content was), which is why Carey Lowell just kind of vanishes from the movie.

All in all, it's not bad, but A Fish Called Wanda is worlds better.

My Grade: B-
Rewatch Value: Medium-high (look, watchable isn't the same as good)

Next up: A Fish Called Wanda