Movies of 1988 Bracket Game: A Fish Called Wanda Vs. The Naked Gun

Happy New Year, everyone!  Here at Le Blog, we ring in the new year with a look back at the movies from decades past.  We’re kicking things off with the cinematic offerings from thirty years ago.  Rain Man was the highest-grossing movie of the year.  It also dominated the Oscars taking home Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor.  Die Hard redefined the action genre and Robert Zemeckis used new technology to blend live action with animation seamlessly in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?  Tom Hanks received his first Oscar nomination for Big (he lost to Dustin Hoffman) and Jodie Foster won her first Best Actress statue for The Accused.  It was a good year for movies and a great year for comedy.  Which movie will readers pick as their favorite from 1988?  That’s up to you guys.

Before we get to today’s match, let’s cover some preliminary information.  Voting occurs daily.  I plan to post a new article at 11:00 EST time every day for the next couple of weeks.  Voting will be shut off some time the following morning.  If you miss checking in, unfortunately, you may miss a vote.  So be sure to check in at the site on the days when your favorite movie is up.

The hardest part of putting together these bracket games is selecting which movies to include.  With a field of 16, there are always some tough exclusions.  The most popular movies of any given year are rarely the best.  With that in mind, I left out top grossers like Crocodile Dundee II and Cocktail.  Award-winning movies aren’t always the best-remembered either.  So I left out Oscar-winning movies like The Accidental Tourist and Golden Globe winners like Gorillas in the Mist.  I also couldn’t find room for some cult films like They Live or Willow.

I am looking for the movies that the majority of readers are most likely to have seen and remember fondly.  I am sure I have probably left out some movies that will be reader favorites.  It turns out 1988 was a solid year for movies with lots of good pictures to choose from.  So you are upset that I left out Hairspray, Beaches or Bloodsport, I apologize in advance.  As I put the finishing touches on my list, I was somewhat concerned it was a little too heavy on comedy.  But I decided to just embrace it.  1988 was a great year for laughing at the movies and thirty years later we could probably all use a little more laughter in our lives.

Which brings me to the two very funny movies in today’s contest.  A Fish Called Wanda blends English humor with American sex appeal and stupidity in a sublimely silly caper movie.  Each of the movie’s four leads is at their best with writer and co-director John Cleese as an uptight Brit, fellow Monty Python alumni Michael Palin as a stuttering assassin and animal lover, Jamie Lee Curtis showing a deft touch for light comedy and Kevin Kline in a performance that won him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

The Naked Gun had no such lofty aspirations.  Coming from the team that brought us Airplane! and based on the short-lived TV show, Police Squad, Naked Gun was nothing more than a joke factory.  Few movies pack so many gags into a 90 minute run time and fewer still manage to land as often as The Naked Gun does.  This is the movie that established Leslie Nielsen as a leading man for spoof comedy.  It inspired many imitators none of which were half as funny as the original.

Which of today’s comedies cracks you up?


Posted on January 1, 2018, in Bracket Game, Movies and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. With the new year comes the latest Bracket Game. As lebeau says, lots of comedy from 1988. The Naked Gun was entertaining and funny at the time; I haven’t watched it for many years and don’t have a great sense of how well it’s held up. A Fish Called Wanda, on the other hand, is a modern classic that I have loved for close to thirty years. A pretty easy vote today.


    • I’m in the same boat. I remember laughing at The Naked Gun when I saw it. I have revisited it, but it’s been ages. I’ll catch the occasional clip now and then and that’s all I need. A Fish Called Wanda, on the other hand, I dust off every few years. It remains a favorite.


  2. I’ve never been as crazy about A FISH CALLED WANDA as so many others have. I love THE NAKED GUN though.


  3. jeffthewildman

    When I saw The Naked Gun during its original theatrical run and re-watched it multiple times on video and TV in the late 80s and early 90s, I’d considered it to be one of the funniest movies ever. Today, I’m not so sure. It’s still enjoyable. But I suspect people who come to it new these days are likely to wonder what all the fuss was. Some of the pop culture references in it are pretty dated, a few of the gags have lost their charm thanks to repetition and there were a few aspects that weren’t that funny then and haven’t become funnier over time. The Naked Gun isn’t one of those movies that you liked as a kid that doesn’t hold up at all as an adult (The Goonies). But it’s no A Fish Called Wanda.

    When I first heard the title of that, I expected something along the lines of Splash. By the time I actually saw it, I knew the premise. Actually, the first time I saw it I didn’t get to see the whole thing. My mom and dad were watching it and kept sending me out of my room, so determined where they to shield my 11 year old self from anything I might not be ready to handle, despite my protestations of “I can handle it. Come on!”.

    With hindsight it’s easy to see that not only was some of the edgier humor perhaps not that appropriate for an 11 year old. But also a lot of the references might not have made that much sense. 6 years later I watched it on HBO one evening and loved it. Not long after I discovered Monty Python for the first time and realizing this was probably the best non Python/Fawlty Towers thing John Cleese ever did.

    Today I consider Wanda to be my personal favorite film of 1988. Entertaining story, memorable characters, edgy humor and some very memorable lines.

    “To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people!”

    Hence it gets my vote.


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