Monkeying Around with a Python
Release Date: January 01, 1997
Starring: John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis,
Kevin Kline, & Michael Palin
Audience: Older teenagers & adults
Runtime: 93 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Director: Robert Young & Fred Schepisi
Executive Producer: Steve Abbott
Producer: Michael Shamberg & John
Writer: John Cleese & Iain Johnstone
Address Comments To:Tom Pollock, Chairman, MCA Motion Picture Group
a division of MCA, Inc.
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608
High-powered executive Willa Weston (Jamie Lee Curtis) has just shown up in Atlanta, expecting to run a radio network under the multinational conglomerate Octopus Inc.. She is surprised to discover that the network has been sold by Octopus owner Rod McCain (Kevin Kline), a sleazy tycoon who demands nothing less than a 20% increase in revenues generated by all his acquisitions. McCain wants to put Willa and his son, Vince (also Kevin Kline), on a new venture. The elder McCain has just purchased the failing British Marwood Zoo and has transferred a bureaucrat, named Rollo Lee (John Cleese), to implement some management changes. From now on, Marwood will only display “fierce creatures,” animals who are known to be a menace to mankind.
The keepers of the zoo do not want to implement Lee’s plan, and they revolt. Thus, Vince and Willa go to England to run the zoo together. Lee is given a menial position, and the “fierce creatures only” policy is terminated. The zoo is transformed into a tacky theme park with animal costumes, bright uniforms, invasive advertising, and unauthorized celebrity endorsements. The zoo is going great, but when Rod McCain finds out that Vince is stealing from him, he goes to England himself to straighten out the matter, resulting in confusion, mayhem, laughs, and even fatalities.
Though this movie generates many laughs, it has a ponderous plot and a confusing story line. It has plenty of zany comedy, involving mistaken ideas about sex and lampooning commercialism, but it takes a long time for the story to unfold. Too much of the first half of the movie is used in setting up the brilliant, but very short, ending sequence. All of the players are in top form, including Kline, who does double-duty, but Cleese is looking a little too old to be an object of sexual attraction. Also, Cleese doesn’t do physical comedy. Palin has a reduced role in this movie and doesn’t contribute very much to the main plot. This movie had two directors and the end product definitely shows disjointed, and even conflicting, thematic elements.
Those who were offended by the dark comedy and sexual playfulness of A FISH CALLED WANDA, will also want to stay away from FIERCE CREATURES. This movie creates a whole comedy sequence involving the accidental death of one of its players. Throughout the film, Willa thinks Rollo is involved in all sorts of abhorrent sexual practices, such as group sex and bestiality, even though he is not. In one scene, Rollo does make sexual advances toward Willa, even initiating fornication, but he is stopped by Vince.
This movie is rated PG-13 but it is not for young teenagers or children. The innuendo and double entendres may go over the head of many young people, but what sticks will be too obscene. A FISH CALLED WANDA became popular because it showed smart people doing dumb things in a clever way. FIERCE CREATURES has these same smart people doing dumb things, but most attempts at being clever get muddled in attempts to explain to the audience what is happening. Hence, FIERCE CREATURES will probably not achieve the same box office success as A FISH CALLED WANDA, but it will probably attract Cleese, Monty Python and WANDA devotees.
Though this movie generates many laughs, it has a ponderous plot and a confusing story line. This movie has plenty of zany comedy, involving mistaken ideas about sex and lampooning commercialism, but it takes a long time for the story to unfold. Those who were offended by the dark comedy and sexual playfulness of A FISH CALLED WANDA, will also want to stay away from FIERCE CREATURES. The sexual innuendo and double entendres may go over the head of many young people, but what sticks will be too obscene.