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Fierce Creatures

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Fierce Creatures

Starring: Kevin Kline, John Cleese
Director: Fred Schepisi
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 97 Minutes
Release Date: January 1997
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Palin, Carey Lowell

Review by Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

"Mr. Sylvester Stallone didn't get where he is today by playing Jane Austen," new zoo director Rollo Lee advises his staff. Rollo works for Australian media baron Rod McCain, who happens to own the zoo and demands the same twenty percent annual return from it that he gets from his other investments.

Rollo knows what the public wants -- violence. His solution? Downsizing. Get rid of all those cuddly animals that aren't providing the proper return on investment. Cut back to a group of fierce creatures and market their ferociousness. This nonplusses the zoo's animal keepers.

FIERCE CREATURES can loosely be called a sequel to 1988's very popular A FISH CALLED WANDA. The same cast returns, but they play different characters. Rollo is played with a dead pan style by John Cleese, and Rod is done with broad humor by Kevin Kline. Kline also plays Rod's incompetent but ambitious son Vince. The head mouth among the animal keepers is Michael Palin as Adrian "Bugsy" Malone. At one point, Vince claims that Bugsy would continue to talk even if it killed him. Palin, whom I normally like, gives a performance so gratingly bad that I was ready to kill him.

The straight man role and the best performance is given by Jamie Lee Curtis as Willa Weston. As the show opens, Willa reports to Octopus Inc., Rod's company, to assume a position managing a group of radio stations. Oops, Rod just sold the stations, but not to worry because he will find something for her. With her skimpy outfits and great body, Willa immediately becomes the target of Vince's amorous intentions. When she goes to take over the zoo from Rollo, Vince tags along.

The setup for the story has much promise, but the delivery is horribly flawed. The script by John Cleese and Iain Johnstone feels like it went through a long series of rewrites, but not enough. The resulting hodgepodge of vignettes has little coherence and remarkably few laughs. Directed at first by Robert Young and later by Fred Schepisi, the film lacks the requisite energy to give punch to the jokes. If the film were chopped into pieces, the segments might work on their own, but taken together they tire more than amuse.

Typical of the jokes has others believing that Rollo is having sex with multiple women when he is merely hiding animals in his room. Better is the effect that Willa has on him -- his tongue gets confused and sexual words come out by mistake. Most of the jokes are so lame that I found that I became more interested in checking my watch than waiting for the next comedy skit. Let's hope they do not attempt another remake unless they have a script worth filming.

FIERCE CREATURES runs 1:33. It is rated PG-13 for language and numerous sexual innuendo. The film would be fine for kids ten and up. The best part of this show for me was that it ended so I give it thumbs down and a generous * 1/2.

Copyright 1997 Steve Rhodes

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