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Film: Fierce Creatures

Fierce Creatures (1997) is a Spiritual Successor to A Fish Called Wanda, starring the four main players from the earlier film: John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, and Michael Palin. The movie was written by John Cleese and directed by Fred Schepisi and Robert Young.

The story concerns a British zoo recently acquired by New Zealand businessman Rod McCain (Kline) and put under the management of Rollo Lee (Cleese). In order to boost profits, Lee decides to institute a "fierce creatures" policy that means that only potentially deadly animals will be featured in the zoo.

This movie contains examples of:

  • Accidental Pervert / Not What It Looks Like: Rollo Lee is constantly being being caught by Willa in embarrassing and seemingly lurid situations (such as being caught with half-dressed and nubile young lady zookeepers, and a sheep in his bedroom). They all have perfectly innocent but very convoluted and unlikely explanations.
    Zoo Patron: I can see why they keep him in a cage.
  • Acting for Two: Kline as both the McCains.
  • Actor Allusion: Rollo briefly calls Willa "Wanda" by accident. Wanda was Curtis' previous role in A Fish Called Wanda.
    • "It's just a flesh wound"
  • All There in the Manual: The novelisation reveals that Rollo is the brother of Archie from A Fish Called Wanda.
  • Ascended To Carnivorism: Lampshaded, as it's what the zookeepers want Rollo to think so he'll keep their animals.
  • Artistic License Zoology: DO NOT LOOK A GORILLA IN THE EYES!
    • There are several in-universe examples too:
    Rollo: It says here they eat grass.
    Lotterby: That's for hors d'oeuvres, sir. When their blood's up—
    Rollo: Lotterby, you are trying to deceive me into thinking some of your animals are fierce...
  • Asshole Victim: Rod McCain
  • Bad Boss : Rod McCain.
  • Bait-and-Switch Tyrant: Rollo only pretends to shoot the cute, fuzzy animals. He is instead keeping them hidden in his room.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: What Rollo is presumed to be doing.
  • Better Than It Sounds Film
  • Big "Shut Up!": When this fails to get Bugsy to shut up, Vince breaks out the gun. That doesn't work either.
  • Blatant Lies: This exchange.
    Rod: I'm all out of money.
    Vince: You've got six billion dollars!
    Rod: Seven, but times are tough.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Vince's ability to mimic his father's Kiwi accent.
  • Curse Cut Short
  • Dodgy Toupee: Neville (Rod's assistant) has some issues with his.
  • Double Entendre: Willa bends forward displaying an immense amount of cleavage to the camera and starts asking how you can resist the urge to reach out and fondle them. She is of course bending forward to look at some very cute animals in the zoo.
  • Epic Fail: Bugsy accidentally killing Rod. Not so much the fact he shot him, but the fact that by shooting him, he doomed his comrades to very swift life imprisonment. Not to mention, Rod has decided to keep the zoo open, mere seconds beforehand.
    • Rollo points out how thoroughly they're all screwed in a tirade dripping with sarcasm.
    Rollo: Oh, great. Terrific. He decides to keep the zoo open, so you kill him. Brilliant. Well done. Thank you so much, especially for shooting him right between the eyes so that it doesn't look like an accident. Because the people at Octopus will know he was coming here to close us down. So there's our motive for murdering him. Stunning. Well, Mr. Brain of Britain, what are we going to tell the police who are, of course, already on their way here? Another example of the thoroughness of your plan. Go on. I'm all ears. What do you suggest we do with the dead body of the incredibly famous man who you have just ASSASSINATED?
  • Executive Meddling: The studio disliked the cut of the film that Robert Young turned in, which led to Fred Schepisi being hired to reshoot anything between just the ending or nearly half of the film, depending on who you believe.
    • It could be half, since Fierce Creatures seems a bit more watered down with the language when comparing it to A Fish Called Wanda.
  • Fanservice: One of Vince's new marketing schemes is to have the zookeepers dress in animal costumes like at Disneyland. One female keeper is dressed rather seductively as a leopard.
  • Freudian Slippery Slope: John Cleese has a brilliant monologue about lemurs wherein he is unable to go five words without mentioning Jamie Lee Curtis' breasts.
    • He even describes it as a "Freudian slit...-slut!...-slot!"
  • Funny Background Event: The animatronic panda is later seen with an "Out of Order" sign hanging around its neck.
  • Gasshole: Rod McCain. He farts as he dies.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Vince.
    Vince: What about a small advance on my inheritance?
    Rod: What inheritance?
    Vince: I'm your son, you have to leave me something.
    Rod: Why?
    Vince: 'Cause you screwed up my whole childhood!
    Rod: How could I have? Wasn't even there.
  • Hilarity In Zoos: The movie takes place mainly at the zoo
  • Hypocritical Humor: After overhearing Rollo on the phone and thinking he's in the midst of a four-way with three hot young zookeepers, Vince says it's disgusting how people abuse positions of power for personal gratification. As he's saying this, he's stripping down to his underwear in order to seduce Willa.
  • I Control My Minions Through...
    Di: You mean Octopus is ruled by fear?
    Rollo: No, no. Terror.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face
  • Inadequate Inheritor: See Hilariously Abusive Childhood above—Rod is going to cut Vince out of the will.
    • By not actually dying; he's going to freeze himself and live forever, with his property going into a trust in the interim.
  • Jerk Ass: Rod McCain
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Rollo puts on the appearance of a tough, no-nonsense type with a sharp tongue, but it's mostly bluster and he's pretty nice underneath it all.
  • Metaphorgotten: Rod McCain claims "Sheep are exactly like people, you know. Give 'em a couple of meals a day, they just stand there quietly... till you eat 'em."
  • Motor Mouth: Oh God, Bugsy. Even Vince threatening to shoot him if he doesn't shut up doesn't work. It makes his eventual stunned silence all the more effective.
    Vince: You would rather talk than live, wouldn't you?!
  • Ms. Fanservice: Jamie Lee Curtis. As Roger Ebert puts it, she dresses as businesswomen would dress if careerwear was designed by Maidenform. (Or maybe more like a stripper in character as a businesswoman.)
  • Network Decay : What a nice cyberpunked rejoicing!
    Ned: Beijing called. We've got the television rights to their public executions.
    Rod: Worldwide?
    Ned: Five guys a week, guaranteed!
    Rod: Beauty! This is what satellite television was invented for. Totally cross-cultural.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: "No animals were harmed in the making of this film, only humans."
  • Not with the Safety on, You Won't: Played with, first successfully to disarm a gunman then, while explaining that the safety was on all the time it ventures into I Just Shot Marvin in the Face.
  • Of Corpse He's Alive: When the father is shot in the head, a plan is quickly concocted to have his son play the father and then pretend to commit suicide. This works well since both characters are played by Kevin Kline.
  • Pandaing to the Audience: A robot panda is imported to the zoo and presented as the real thing.
  • People Zoo: Rollo and his office are an exhibit in a cage at the zoo.
  • Production Posse: A Fish Called Wanda and Fierce Creatures both share the same four actors: John Cleese, Kevin Kline, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Michael Palin.
    • The same woman who played Wendy (Archie's wife) in Wanda also returns, this time playing Rollo's secretary. And John Cleese's daughter Cynthia, who played his daughter in Wanda, here plays the blonde zookeeper.
  • Right in Front of Me: Rollo Lee mouthing off to the people he doesn't know are his bosses:
    Rollo: God, you're always so pushy, you Americans! I mean, who the hell do you think you are?!
    Willa: Willa Weston.
    Vince: Vince McCain.
    Rollo: Oh...Well...
  • Shout-Out: "Beautiful plumage", "Flesh wound", and, of course, calling Willa "Wanda".
    • Bugsy can't stop talking until the moment where he kills someone, at which point he shuts up. In A Fish Called Wanda, Ken (played by the same actor) cannot talk because of his stutter, until he kills someone, at which point he suddenly talks normally and won't shut up.
    • Furthermore, the character of Bugsy has the same accent and manner of rambling on, despite whether or not anybody is listening, of the character Mr. Pither from MPFC.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Vince. Willa described him as "pronoid"; the opposite of paranoid. Despite all evidence to the contrary, he thinks he is admired, respected, and popular. Needless to say, not a single other character can stand him.
  • Spiritual Successor: To A Fish Called Wanda. In Poland the movie is even called A Lemur Called Rollo
  • Those Four Actors: Note: This is not a sequel to Wanda.
  • Throw It In: After Rollo has called Willa Wanda by mistake, he is seen suppressing his laughter.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Rod and Vince McCain, both played by Kevin Kline.
  • Urban Legend Love Life: This movie demonstrates from the inside how this can happen unintentionally. It turns out the process is similar to that which makes an Accidental Pervert, but with more of a tendency towards Accidental Innuendo.
  • Verbal Backspace: Rollo loses it and gives his zoo's employees a scathing critique of their new corporate owner:
    Rollo: I think the whole Octopus philosophy is poison. The only aim of any and every McCain business is to downsize and halve the quality, to make enough money to acquire another business to downsize and halve the quality, to make enough money to acquire another business to downsize, etc., etc., without ever running a single one of them really well. And if anyone ever raises the question of quality, they're immediately attacked as an elitist, because at Octopus it's considered morally offensive to talk about anything but money. All so that Mr. Rod McCain can feel a little more powerful every day. That's why, instead of running this wonderful zoo properly, we've got to spoil it in order to finance his next mindless acquisition.
    (notices one of McCain's representatives standing behind him)
    Rollo: (without flinching) On the other hand, he is a remarkable man—.
  • Your Costume Needs Work: A meta-example. Kevin Cline plays both Rod and Vince McCain in the film, and Vince McCain also plays his own father, albeit with such unprofessional makeup techniques as turning his hair grey with flea powder and stuffing his cheeks with cotton balls and his jacket with toilet paper. Neville has this reaction to Vince as Rod.

Fast GirlsBritish FilmsFire Over England
The Fearless FourFilms of the 1990sThe Fifth Element
The Hunchback of Notre DameCreator/Kevin KlineThe Ice Storm

alternative title(s): Fierce Creatures
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