FIERCE CREATURES --
Monty Python fans have, for months, eagerly anticipated the release of Fierce Creatures which debuted in the United States and in select international theaters on 24 January 1997. The film was a long time in coming and was delayed when the studios decided to change and reshoot the ending to the film. But the film finally made it into theaters and has generally been garnering positive press since its release. A UK release is scheduled for February 14.
The film was written, co-produced, and co-directed by John Cleese and reunites the cast of A Fish Called Wanda: ex-Pythons John Cleese and Michael Palin as well as Kevin Kline and Jamie Lee Curtis. The film also has one additional Python association: the film's plot is loosely based on a comedy sketch that Michael Palin wrote with Terry Jones in 1967 for the BBC!
The film also reacquaints a number of other Wanda stars, such as Maria Aitken (who played Cleese's wife Wendy Leach in the previous film) and Cynthia Cleese (John Cleese's real-life daughter who is once again launching her acting career). Other famous names to appear in Fierce Creatures include comedy legends Ronnie Corbett (of "Two Ronnies" fame) and Hugh Laurie. Also starring are Robert Lindsay (who starred with Michael Palin in BBC's G.B.H.), Carey Lowell (Sleepless in Seattle), and Richard Ridings (Who Framed Roger Rabbit).
If the success of A Fish Called Wanda is any example, Fierce Creatures may do very well this January. Wanda was made at a cost of only $7.5 million (U.S.) and grossed nearly $200 million worldwide. Admittedly, Creatures is a bigger film, costing approximately $25 million and starring nearly five times as many actors. The pressure of a pseudo-sequel combined with poor ratings during the film's pre-screening period last year has raised the ante a bit, however (see the story of the Fierce Creatures re-shoot in the next issue of the Daily Llama).
Make no mistake, Fierce Creatures is not a sequel. "Absolutely not!" says Kevin Kline, whose portrayal of the opinionated braggart Otto in Wanda earned him an Oscar award. "Same actors, different characters, different story. It's an equal, not a sequel."
Recalls Cleese, "I remember saying during the publicity for Wanda that we'd try to do a sequel. I knew we'd all do another together, but I didn't have any idea what it would be. The idea was to get Kevin, Jamie, and Michael back."
"It's so different," says Michael Palin, "I think it will be judged on it's own merits as the film that it is, not just relating back to A Fish Called Wanda. I certainly didn't want to play Ken Pile again!"
"We're doing something which isn't done very often," said Curtis, "reteaming original participants who all got along well and on some level fed each other creatively and are now getting back together to try again... And obviously the problem... with a movie like this is that the pressure on it is so tremendous... to be funny. It's very hard to have it be a win-win situation for everybody." John Cleese agrees: "One of the hardest things I ever did was the second series of Fawlty Towers because expectations were so high."
The next two issues of The Daily Llama feature a generous sampling of stories on the production and history of Fierce Creatures. We hope you enjoy them. For more information, visit the very cool Fierce Creatures website at http://www.fierce-creatures.com.
A Fish Called Wanda... meets... Fierce Creatures