New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - February 6, 1997, New Braunfels, Texas
Herald-Zeitung H Thursday, February 6, 1997 G 7Attractionsmovie mini: ‘Fierce Creatures’
By David Elliott • Copley ISttti Service
All-out silliness is hard to sustain in a feature comedy. That’s one reason why the Three Stooges, though they appeared in some features, starred almost entirely in two-reelers (an unplanned advantage of the short form was that it later gave the Stooges a second, immortalizing life on television).
One striking thing about 1988*s “A Fish Called Wanda” is that it stayed funny for 108 minutes, with just a few slumps. Inspired in its niche - the cute surreal - it was a hit and a big career moment for its stars, Britain’s Monty Python grads Michael Palin and John Cleese and their smartly balancing new American partners, Kevin Kline and Jamie Lee Curtis.
Those stars are back for “Fierce Creatures,” not a sequel but a reunion. Instead of a fish called Wanda, there are many critters, since the location is mostly a British zoo called Marwood (it should be Ealing, since the cozy dottiness of the old Ealing Studio comedies is the ancestor spirit at this party).
If you come in a light, goof-up mood, you might enjoy the movie more than I did. This is the sort of party to which you may need to bring your own mental champagne. Feeling fizzy from the start, you’re glad for almost any gag to pop your cork. Otherwise, it can turn grinding, like being trapped at a party of merry drunks while you sober up and stare at the door.
Kline, working his energy compulsively, is Vince, the vain yuppie son of a fanatically bottom-line billionaire, Rod (Kline again, and funnier, with gruff Aussie voice and a gaze of constipated brutality). Rod would rather downsize your life than give you the time of day; he is almost a smart lampoon of corporate profit mania, but the repeated gas jokes keep Kline from climbing any satirical height.
Rod buys the zoo, and sends a faltering executive, Rollo (Cleese), to ravage it into profitability. Rollo’s big idea is to use “fierceness” as a draw. That implies imminent doom for the lemurs, koalas and other cuddlies.
except that Rollo is a softy himself, when not blustering or fingering firearms.
Vince and a new biz-wiz, Willa (Curtis), arrive to oversee the overhaul. That means lurid uniforms for the zookeepers (now called zoo enhancement
those precious product logos).
“Fierce Creatures” doesn’t do enough with the animals, though there is a quaintly sweet scene of Curtis and a gorilla. Curtis is as likable and full-breasted (and joking about it) as ever. Cleese and Palin (as a zoo twit) are dependably dotty and Pythonian, while Kline has his moments - but they all struggle inside a very simple script that doesn't layer and build, even idiotically.
I can see the utility of director Robert Young, a Brit TV veteran, but why is Fred Schepisi sharing co-credit? In a carcer that includes “The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith,” “Barbarosa,” “The Russia House,” “Iceman,” “A Cry in the Dark,” “Roxanne” and “Six Degrees of Separation," how does “Fierce Creatures” fit in, except ludicrously? Maybe the scene of Curtis being terrified and then
John Clee** In the new comedy “Fierce Creatures"
facilitators), and screaming commercialism, with names like Sadam Hussein sponsoring exhibits, and billboards that partly hide the animals. The movie spoofs product placement, yet in doing so also plugs a lot of products (and when some things finally land on a bonfire, it isn’t
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delighted by the gorilla is an echo of Timothy Hutton with the defrosted Neanderthal in “Iceman.”
This comedy went through serious overhauls and testings. It
seemed tickled pink - maybe they got their champagne wishes, if not their cav iar dreams.
“Fierce Creatures” is rated PC»-13.
All-out silliness is hard to sustain in a feature comedy.
often looks cheap, garish and slapped-together. The look matches many of the mugging gags, though, to be fair, quite a few viewers at the preview
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