I Saw A Film!

A story by the great John Cleese and outfitted with no less talents than Kevin Kline, Michael Palin, and possibly the sexiest and most amusing con-artist version of Jamie Lee Curtis ever put on film. The film has it’s flaws, of course, but it is mostly meant as a hysterical bank heist and triple cross evolving out of the inevitable distrust of thieves and their constant need to manipulate. Curtis and Kline hope to steal the goods from the rest of their team, but the mastermind of the plan, suspects, and so hiding places and box keys become clever props in a series of uncomfortable, and equally outrageous jokes.

The worst of these jokes is animal lover Palin’s stuttering Ken killing off an old witness’s unfortunate terriers, each one unintentionally. But this part doesn’t survive the years well. The poor little doggies. Kline however, as a proudly American psychopath with a pointed, but misguided (mostly) interest in Nietzsche, is hilarious. He’s both oversensitive about his intelligence, and boldly, physically loaded with bravado. A perfect mix of so many real-world characters we endure leading right up to The Big Lebowski’s Walter all the way from the recently late Jean-Paul Belmondo’s Breathless outlaw.

Of course this is a purposeful comedy, and in 1988 several of the memorable sequences would be beloved for decades. Kline feasting on poor Ken’s beloved aquarium fish as a side with his chips, is one of the most wickedly weird and goofy torments ever filmed. Ken’s revenge is very satisfying!

Cleese’s barrister is perfectly played. A bored lawyer, married into distracted money, easily falling for the confidence game Curtis plays on him, but managing to turn it around for the best option. We don’t mind his abandonment of nose jobs and horse replacements. But it is hard to imagine the cons not still operating their tactics despite the burgeoning love.

Still this 33 year old romp holds many clever moments and as a Monty Python devotee getting to see Palin and Cleese operating together (despite their oft discussed work frustrations with each other–big deal, such is inevitable) is always fun. And it would seldom be this much fun. Even the sexual sequences and the mild kinkiness are portrayed with style and humor. Curtis’s affection for accent and language should encourage all of us to get some polylingual habits!

This is watchable all over the place, I caught it on Hulu.

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