What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
This movie is not on my list of essential films.
From a strictly cinematic perspective, this movie has a major flaw, and yet it works, probably because I’am a stupidly huge fan of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and this film stars Michael Palin and John Cleese (who also co-wrote and directed).
Despite that, the big problem this movie has is it can’t decide whether it is a light comedy with dark moments or a dark comedy with light moments. What lends itself to that is every character in this movie is essentially a bad person who are all inextricably woven into a classic bank robbery scheme.
Micheal Palin plays Ken, the bank robbery mastermind who has a crippling stutter and a penchant for tropical fish, ergo the title. Kevin Kline plays Otto, the general reprobate and Wal-Mart Lothario who fancies himself a mastermind, yet is at best “intellectually challenged.” John Cleese stars as mid-life crisis victim and attorney Archie Leach who becomes smitten with Jamie Lee Curtis’ character while defending the “patsy” she setup for the bank robbery and eventually conspires with her to abscond to South America with the stolen fortune.
Even the minor characters are douche-nozzles. Cleese’s wife “Wendy” is the classic English ice-queen, and his prototypical spoiled rich-bitch daughter (played by his real-life daughter) is that classic Veruca Salt-type character you just want to throat-punch.
The Hidden Sports Analogy:
There’s a very mercenary “every man for himself” theme running through this picture, but nothing exemplifies this better than Jamie Lee Curtis portrayal of the female lead Wanda Gershwitz. Not only does the Wanda character act as the hub of the robbery conspiracy, she plays a “master of puppets” by at some point pitting all four main male characters against each other. She uses a sexual relationship with Otto to get him to dime out one of the conspirators as the sole perpetrator of the robbery, then plays on his insecurities to turn him against Ken, the doubles down on that by using Archie to accentuate his jealous nature.
In other words, Wanda Gershwitz is the embodiment of the sports agent in the era of free agency. Like an agent, she’s all about getting her hands on money earned by other people. Like an agent, people are simply a means to an end to further her cause. And like an agent, she will fuck (figuratively and/or literally) anybody if it gets her to the money.
The Moral of the Story:
Professional sport is as mercenary a business as there is. Don’t ever pretend that it isn’t.