Archie Leach (played by John Cleese) is a successful barrister who runs his practice in the Courts of central London. His is a very predictable and straight-laced life. He lives in high-brow suburbia with his wife Wendy (by Maria Aitken) and their young teen daughter Portia (by Cynthia Caylor). A significant bank heist on the other side of London has been carried out by long-term criminal George (by Tom Georgeson) and his gang, including the stuttering Ken (by Michael Palin). Since the heist, George has been double-crossed by his girlfrield Wanda (by Jamie Lee Curtis) and her brother Otto (by Kevin Kline) for the $20 million loot of diamonds, so George now sits in jail awaiting his trial and Archie is appointed to defend him. Meanwhile, Wendy and Otto can’t be sure that George hasn’t concocted another whole version of the “truth”, so in an attempt to find out how much trouble they could be in, Wanda befriends Archie and he is totally smitted by her sweet charms, leading him to question his stuffy and uneventful life. Otto is well-meaning but not very intelligent and a would-be secret agent, so his attempts to help things out are usually catastrophic. But … things go haywire when Wanda and Otto’s plans start to unravel and greed gets the better of everyone.
This movie is really great, I enjoy it every time I see it. John Cleese is marvellous (and he even manages to appear handsome, almost sexy in some scenes). Jamie Lee Curtis is fabulous as the sweet and conniving Wanda, but Kevin Kline and Michael Palin are the two stand-out performances. Give the prize to the magnificent Kevin Kline for his portrayal of the unfortunate Otto – he’s hilarious, to be seen to be believed. In 1989, Kline won the Academy Award (Oscar) for best performance in a Supporting Role, for this work – and it is very well deserved indeed. Michael Palin’s performance as Ken is wonderful, he is a support character also, but a primary part of the story.
There are two lines in this movie that I will always remember and enjoy … both from Otto:“Don’t call me stupid!! ….” and “K-k-k-Ken’s P-p-p-Pets!!”
A very enjoyable film.
Made in 1988. Directed by Charles Crichton.