Fierce Creatures (1997)

Comedy
John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, Michael Palin
Zookeepers struggle to deal with the policies of changing directors.
  • MCA Universal Home Video Company:
  • PG-13 Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 24 Jan 1997 Released:
  • 20 Jan 1998 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • John Cleese, Iain Johnstone Writer:
  • Fred Schepisi, Robert Young Director:
  • N/A Website:

All subtitles:



Trailer:

Superb comedy from start to finish...5/10

I rather fail to see how anyone couldn't find this film funny. It still makes me laugh uproariously every time I see it, and I've seen it many, many times.

Special congratulations must go to Cleese and Kline, both of whom give exceptional performances, and there is a real sense of joy that comes through from the various situations in which these characters find themselves. Although Cleese's character is somewhat 'Fawlty-esque', and let's face it - this is what he does best, I found it thoroughly enjoyable.

Jamie lee Curtis and Michael Palin do equally well, though Palin's character is almost as frustrating / annoying as was his role in 'Wanda', but I don't think this detracts from the enjoyability factor of the film.

This is an uplifting, and heart-warming affair, packed full of laughs, but with a more than reasonable plot line, and I really liked the ending, which cleverly capitalizes on Klines excellent character acting.

If I had to level any sort of criticism at 'Fierce creatures', it would be in the soundtrack department - i just didn't think it was as good as it could have been - but this makes little difference to the overall flow of the film, and I have no hesitation in awarding it 9.5 out of 10, and recommending it to anyone that enjoys a well made and endearing, quality comedy.
Tacky, but funny7/10

I can't tell you how many times I've seen this movie; a rough estimate would be at least half a dozen times, just through three or four years. And amazingly enough, I laugh every single time. It may be that Michael Palin is just so damn funny and typically Monty Python-like in the film, it may be that Jamie Lee Curtis has a surprising amount of comedic talent, it may be that Kevin Kline is excellent in both of his roles in the film... heck, it may even be John Cleese's entertaining performance... and I'm not even a fan of him. The film manages to be incredibly funny despite being very tacky and downright tasteless in many, many scenes. The plot is pretty good, and, as far as I know, quite original. It deals with a multi-billionaire and a zoo, which (obviously) doesn't make a lot of money, like the billionaire wants it to. The film has a good pace and is rarely - if ever - boring. The acting is very good, but one wouldn't expect any less from such names as John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline and Michael Palin. It was also a nice surprise to recognize Richard Ridings, who plays one of my favorite characters in the Luc Besson film, Jeanne D'arc: La Hire. I recognized him almost instantly by his very distinguished laugh. The characters are well-written, well-cast and well-acted, as well as credible. I thoroughly enjoyed most of them, even though they are mostly caricatures. That just added to the humor of the film, I think. As in several other of Kevin Kline's films, he plays two parts, and he, as always(well, nearly always, anyway) does so very well. I understand that this is, in some ways, apparently a sequel to the late-80's comedy A Fish Called Wanda; now, I haven't seen that film, so I can't really comment on how the two relate to each other, but if "Wanda" is in any way as funny as this movie, I'm gonna have to see it sometime. The humor is excellent; black, crude humor at its best. All in all, a very good comedy if you don't mind some tacky humor. I recommend it to fans of any of the actors, fans of tacky/crude/black humor and even fans of Monty Python, since both members involved in this are great. 7/10
One of the funniest movies of all time9/10
...WAY funnier than "A Fish Called Wanda".

I enjoy "Wanda", but "Fierce Creatures" should get the acclaim that earlier film does. It has a few weak moments of sentimentality, but they're quickly forgotten; nearly every scene is packed to bursting with witheringly literate putdowns and rejoinders, performances given just the right amount of push over the edge, and someone's best-laid schemes unraveling in hilariously improbable fashion. Kevin Kline oozes handsome, clueless yuppie smarm from every pore; John Cleese plays a take-charge-but-eventually-beleaguered Basil Fawlty variation with his usual timing mastery.

A should-be comedy classic that doesn't get the praise it's due.
I have a sneaking fondness for this movie5/10

Yes, I know it wasn't as good as A Fish Called Wanda (which it was the unofficial "sequel" to - being not a continuation of the same characters, but featuring all the same lead actors, in roughly the same configuration and relation to one another as in the previous film). And yes, it's clear that John Cleese has lost a step or three on his precision and comic timing (though John Cleese at half speed is still funnier than most comic actors working today). But this film has such a sweetness and a general good spirit to it that I find it impossible to dislike.

The story itself is rather convoluted, and one could make a fair claim that it seems more a hodge-podge of stitched together ideas than a seamless throughline. That is so, and yet since it is a hodge podge of almost entirely *good* ideas, it's harder to find fault with. Cleese stars as an ex-cop who is hired by a huge Rupert Murdoch-like conglomerate to run an English zoo that they have picked up in a mergers acquisition. Needless to say, the zoo has absolutely no inherent interest to the company, but they are willing to keep it going if it can return a profit at a certain rate. Cleese plans to do this is by appealing to people's bloodlust, and only keeping the most dangerous and fearsome of the animals (the "fierce creatures" of the title). Things change somewhat when Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Kline show up to take over Cleese's job (but keep him on as an employee). A brainstorm by Kline (playing a character every bit as hilariously slimy and petty as his counterpart in Wanda) introduces the notion of corporate sponsorship into the zoo-going experience. Eventually, all the employees are decked out in animal costumes (like mascots at a "Zoo Land" amusement park), and Kline has even begun the process of introducing animatronic creatures behind the bars. All the while, a budding romance between Cleese and Curtis is playing out behind the scenes, and the two eventually join forces to try and save the zoo from the clutches of the crass and evil conglomerate.

Any one of the comic scenarios the film-makers bring up would be worth exploring to the end. The fact that they cannot seem to keep one satirical conceit going for any stretch, and feel the need to overhaul the plot in a new direction every twenty minutes or so, definitely lessens the impact the movie could have had. And yet, for example: just because the writers beg off early on the "fierce creatures" idea doesn't make it any less hilarious - both as a concept and in execution. The scenes of the kindly zookeepers trying to sell their individual cute little animals as dangerous is one of the funniest scenes in the movie. But then, later, when that concept has been forgotten, and we instead see Kevin Kline leading around a group of potential financial backers, giving them his notions of how corporate sponsorship could work at the zoo . . . well, that's one of the funniest scenes too. What I'm saying is, though a strong focus is something the film lacks, it makes up for it by filling its running time with enough entertaining and well devised comic moments to make you feel like you got your money's worth.

The performances help. As in Fish Called Wanda, Jamie Lee Curtis is not particularly noteworthy as an actress OR a comedienne, but she gets by on her general sultriness and willingness to play cheerfully along. Most importantly, she keeps out of the way of the big boys and lets them do their stuff. As I mentioned, Cleese is a little moldier here than usual, but there's still no one who does high-strung fussiness better, and he holds down the screen nicely. As with Wanda, though, it's Kevin Kline who really steals the show - this time in a dual role, as the Murdoch-like head of the conglomerate and his stupid slimeball son who has big plans for the zoo (as well as getting into Curtis's pants). The sheer *energy* he throws out is infectious, and his ability to "play off" himself - in the scenes between father and son - is nothing short of superb. Blessedly, the dual role bit is revealed as more than just an actor's stunt by the way the movie is resolved: had Kline not been playing both roles, the movie could never end the way it does. That, too, was a nice touch.

Genial, breezy, good spirted - this is Fierce Creatures. Nothing in the masterpiece league but, especially if you've seen A Fish Called Wanda, it's a nice evening spent with old friends - with some new and well devised jokes thrown into the mix.
Lots of harmless fun8/10

"Fierce Creatures" was marketed as a somewhat adventurous endeavour in teaming up much of the old team from the highly acclaimed "A Fish called Wanda" to do another film that was completely different and had nothing the same, except much of the cast.

Does this have the same sparkle? The short answer is no, but it is still good viewing. It tells the story of a highly greedy and successful business magnate, Rod McCain (Kevin Kline) who has just taken over a zoo in England. However, business regulations require that the zoo return 20% of revenue or it will be shut down. Put in charge is Rollo Lee (John Cleese), who is then somewhat overthrown by new recruit Willa Weston (Jamie Lee Curtis) and McCain's 'idiot' son Vince (also Kline). Essentially the film deals with the three of the new directors and their different schemes for making money and raising the revenue to 20%, but with plenty of sexual tension and comedies of error along the way.

It's a lot of fun, I think I've made that clear. It's by no means the best comedy put on film but it has a lot of the same laughs as a normal Cleese-written comedy; in some ways the character of Rollo Lee is very much like the character of Basil Fawlty. Kline is brilliantly hilarious as usual, he's the standout, while Curtis, Michael Palin, Robert Lindsay and Ronnie Corbett all give spirited performances. It's also nice for an Aussie to see Bille Brown making his big screen debut as the terrible right-hand man Neville.

Overall, it's an above average piece of writing, directing and performing that gives you a laugh. Perfect for a night in. 3 1/2 stars out of 5.