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Festivale Summer 1996-7
(Reviews Jan., 1996)

Fierce Creatures

It must be difficult to remain productive as a creative comedy writer over the period that John Cleese has. The biggest danger of building up such a body of work is that of repeating oneself. Unfortunately his latest effort, Fierce Creatures shows considerable signs of recycling, if not of specific jokes, then certainly of setups and styles.

Fierce creatures

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Fierce Creatures mixes Faulty Towers style physical comedy with Carry On movie single entendres

If A Fish Called Wanda was a wonderful update of Ealing comedy styles, with it own charm, Fierce Creatures mixes Faulty Towers style physical comedy with Carry On movie single entendres. The two styles meet in the joke recycled from Fawlty Towers of Cleese reaching out for something and finding a woman's breast.

The emphasis on tit jokes reduces Jamie Lee Curtis' role to one of providing the tits, and unlike Wanda, this is pretty much all she adds to the movie. Which is a pity since in Wanda she showed that she could equal Connie Booth as a foil for Cleese.

Worse, Kevin Kline and Michael Palin are not as effective as they were in Wanda, and the film lacks the strength of ensemble playing from that film. Kline plays the dual roles of Rod McCain, a New Zealand entrepreneur (with a lousy Australian accent - the NZ status seems to be so they can add some sheep jokes), and his son (with an American accent), neither role being as funny or well defined as Otto from Wanda.

Palin's character is even less well-defined, being a know-it-all zookeeper who is not particularly funny.

If this makes Fierce Creatures sound like a waste of time, it isn't. If you enjoyed A Fish Called Wanda (or Fawlty Towers or even Carry On movies), there will be enough in Fierce Creatures to raise a smile, a giggle and some smirks, if never a real belly laugh.

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Title: Fierce Creatures
Directed by: Robert Young
93 mins

The Players: John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, Michael Palin, Robert Lindsay, Ronnie Corbett, Carey Lowell

Universal Pictures

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