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Movies of 1988 Bracket Game: A Fish Called Wanda Vs. Die Hard

We are entering the final stretch of the Movies of 1988 bracket game!  It’s down to action hero Bruce Willis against of trio of very different comedies.  Can any of them stop John McClane on his march to victory?  Just like in Die Hard, the “fly in the ointment” finds himself opposed by a motley band of criminals led by a suave European.  But the gang from A Fish Called Wanda is a whole lot sillier than the terrorists who invaded Nakatomi Plaza.  Still, if Detective McClane isn’t careful, he is in imminent danger of having chips shoved up his nose.

Before we get started, let’s take a look at our final four.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? beat out Big in a three-to-one contest.  That means the cartoon rabbit and his wacky entourage will battle the ghost with the most for a spot in the final round.  Our four semi-finalists are A Fish Called Wanda, Die Hard, Beetlejuice and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?  Don’t miss a day of voting over this long holiday weekend or your favorite may be knocked out!

Let’s dig in on today’s match-up shall we?  Both A Fish Called Wanda and Die Hard were wildly popular movies when they were released.  However, they may not have been quite as big as you remember them.  As we discussed previously, Die Hard was only the seventh-highest grossing movie of the year.  With earnings just over $80 million dollars, it narrowly beat out The Naked Gun and trailed “Crocodile” Dundee II.  A Fish Called Wanda didn’t even crack the top ten!  The caper comedy was the 12th highest-grossing movie of the year just behind Working Girl.

Still, both of these movies left audiences hungry for more.  In the case of Die Hard, fans got exactly that in the form of several direct follow-ups (not to mention countless ripoffs).  The first sequel, Die Hard 2: Die Harder released two years later, was and even bigger hit than the original.  Adjusted for inflation, it remains the highest grossing movie in the Die Hard franchise.  While some of the sequels have their merits, I don’t think many (there’s always someone*) would argue that the series ever matched the excitement of the first film or even came close.

*Gene Siskel was a very prominent “someone” who picked the sequel as one of the top ten movies of 1990!  (Warning: There’s some NSF language in this clip.  It’s obviously been edited to include more movie footage than the show originally aired.)

You may not remember it, but A Fish Called Wanda also had a follow-up of sorts.  Nine years later, the primary cast reunited for an unrelated comedy, Fierce Creatures.  Cleese, Curtis, Kline and Palin were back together on the big screen but they were playing completely different characters.  In interviews, the cast referred to Fierce Creatures as an “equal”, not a sequel.  If that had been true, it probably would have been a good idea to start over with a clean slate.  Wanda was not a movie that required a sequel.  Unfortunately, Creatures was nowhere near as funny as the original movie.  If you haven’t seen it and you’re curious, it’s mildly diverting.

Audiences who desperately wanted an update on the characters from Wanda could get exactly that from the novelization of Fierce Creatures.  The book starts off with a letter from Archie (Cleese’s character in Wanda) to his brother Rollo (the character Cleese played in Creatures.  The letter reveals that Archie and Wanda are still living happily ever after in Rio and that they have a large family.  Otto fled South America after the election of Nelson Mandela and is trying to form an organization for like-minded sociopaths.  Ken still works at the London Sea World where he had security escort Otto out.

In the cases of both A Fish Called Wanda and Die Hard, nothing beats the original films.  Either would be a worth finalist for our contest.  Which one do you want to see advance?

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Posted on January 13, 2018, in Bracket Game, Movies and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. For my money, these are the two best films in this bracket game, both of which I have enjoyed repeated viewings of through the years. Of the two, I am more likely to go with the zany heist comedy than the trend-setting action thriller, so it gets my vote, but either would be a worthy finalist (and overall winner for that matter).

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is entirely possible that this should have been the final match-up instead of the semi-finals. Based on the comments so far, I may have over-estimated the popularity among readers of Beetlejuice and Roger Rabbit.

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      • I’d say that among many people within 5 years of my age either way, Beetlejuice remains a perennial favorite.

        Roger Rabbit didn’t seem to me to have held up as well. It’s not a case of wine turning into vinegar. But the movie on the whole isn’t as fresh now as it was in 1988. But like Beetlejuice, it does benefit in some ways from being one a lot of people in that age bracket grew up with.

        As I mentioned previously, I loved Beetlejuice form the time i saw it durings its theatrical run. Roger Rabbit was a slightly different case. My mom took my cousin (same one I saw Beetlejuice with) and I to see it in theaters a few weeks before school began. When we walked out of Beetlejuice, my reaction was that I loved it. My mom’s was that it was dumb. When we walked out of RR she was saying the same thing and I was agreeing with her.

        Came back to it a couple years later and found myself enjoying it somewhat more. Today, I’m at a point where although I don’t see it as the full-fledged classic a lot of people seem to think it is. I can enjoy and appreciate it on certain levels (the film noir spoofery works better once you’ve seen actual noir and it resonates with one who considers Chinatown and LA Confidential to be two of his all-time favorites).

        Liked by 2 people

        • In just under 30 minutes, we can have the whole Beetlejuice vs. Roger Rabbit conversation. I just finished the write-up for the next round and it ties into some of what you are saying.

          One topic that interests me is the idea that one of the reasons Roger Rabbit hasn’t aged well is changes in technology and the rise of computer animation. I’ll be interested to hear people’s thoughts on that.

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  2. The way this is trending is…odd. And troubling…

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  3. I thought for sure that Die Hard would win. So my vote wnet for Wanda. Looks like I may have been wrong. I thought Bull Durham would win the one against Beetlejuice. Wrong there too.

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    • I’m averaging about 50% on this bracket game.

      A reader on Twitter called this one LeBrexit. He figures all the Die Hard fans were so confident of success that they didn’t turn up to vote. Let that be a lesson to everyone both here at the blog and in real life as well. 😉

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