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Fierce Creatures/B, A-

US/1997/Color/Widescreen 2.35:1/Stereo Surround/94 minutes/Directed by Robert Young and Fred Schepisi/Starring John Cleese, Kevin Kline, Jamie Lee Curtis/MCA-Universal/34 Chaps/CLV/$34.98

You could say that Fierce Creatures ultimately has teeth bigger than its bite. An entertaining concoction, its strains for originality with irreverence, failing to wholly succeed on either front. When its does tickle the funny bone, usually during its silliest moments, Fierce Creatures is a perfect Sunday at the zoo. Trying to capitalize on the magic of the star chemistry from A Fish Called Wanda, Fierce Creatures brings those stars together again with decidedly less success.

Will the zoo have to put its friendly animals to sleep in favor of a more hostile and supposedly commercially appealing environment. Will Rollo Lee prove ruthless enough as zoo manager. Who gets to sleep with Willa. Does lothario Vince prove himself to his father. These are the questions that Fierce Creatures tries to spear with abandon.

John Cleese stars as Rollo Lee the executive chosen to take over a London Zoo and make it profitable. Cleese is the perfect choice to make all the tough decisions in his inimitable screen fashion. Kevin Kline plays the dual role of media magnate Rod McCain and his son Vince. Kline is a delightful comedian and makes the most of his screen time. Jamie Lee Curtis rounds out the stars with a forward performance as hungry executive Willa Weston. The madness often works on several counts and the romantic entanglements are lots of fun.

There were some production problems in getting Fierce Creatures to the screen entailing significant rewrites and additional filming under a second director Fred Schepisi. Not insignificant considering his shared directing credit with Robert Young.

Fierce Creatures is fine transfer to laser disc. A bright looking transfer, the disc has well defined color. Hues are accurate. The image is consistently sharp. Creature sounds are well located.