"Mr. Sylvester Stallone didn't get where he is today by playing
Jane Austen," new zoo director Rollo Lee advises his staff. Rollo
works for Australian media baron Rod McCain, who happens to own the zoo
and demands the same twenty percent annual return from it that he gets
from his other investments.
Rollo knows what the public wants -- violence. His solution?
Downsizing. Get rid of all those cuddly animals that aren't providing
the proper return on investment. Cut back to a group of fierce
creatures and market their ferociousness. This nonplusses the zoo's
FIERCE CREATURES can loosely be called a sequel to 1988's very
popular A FISH CALLED WANDA. The same cast returns, but they play
different characters. Rollo is played with a dead pan style by John
Cleese, and Rod is done with broad humor by Kevin Kline. Kline also
plays Rod's incompetent but ambitious son Vince. The head mouth among
the animal keepers is Michael Palin as Adrian "Bugsy" Malone. At one
point, Vince claims that Bugsy would continue to talk even if it killed
him. Palin, whom I normally like, gives a performance so gratingly bad
that I was ready to kill him.
The straight man role and the best performance is given by Jamie
Lee Curtis as Willa Weston. As the show opens, Willa reports to
Octopus Inc., Rod's company, to assume a position managing a group of
radio stations. Oops, Rod just sold the stations, but not to worry
because he will find something for her. With her skimpy outfits and
great body, Willa immediately becomes the target of Vince's amorous
intentions. When she goes to take over the zoo from Rollo, Vince tags
The setup for the story has much promise, but the delivery is
horribly flawed. The script by John Cleese and Iain Johnstone feels
like it went through a long series of rewrites, but not enough. The
resulting hodgepodge of vignettes has little coherence and remarkably
few laughs. Directed at first by Robert Young and later by Fred
Schepisi, the film lacks the requisite energy to give punch to the
jokes. If the film were chopped into pieces, the segments might work
on their own, but taken together they tire more than amuse.
Typical of the jokes has others believing that Rollo is having sex
with multiple women when he is merely hiding animals in his room.
Better is the effect that Willa has on him -- his tongue gets confused
and sexual words come out by mistake. Most of the jokes are so lame
that I found that I became more interested in checking my watch than
waiting for the next comedy skit. Let's hope they do not attempt
another remake unless they have a script worth filming.
FIERCE CREATURES runs 1:33. It is rated PG-13 for language and
numerous sexual innuendo. The film would be fine for kids ten and up.
The best part of this show for me was that it ended so I give it thumbs
down and a generous * 1/2.
Copyright © 1997 Steve Rhodes