There is no actor left quite like Don Knotts. Where most actors are willing to occasionally play the lovable wimp in a film or two, Don Knotts dedicated his entire career to it. The Incredible Mr. Limpet was my first introduction to this creative and unique comedic mind. Much like Captain America, the film tells the story of a weakling who wants to help his country in the war. The difference is Steve Rogers became a strong super solider and Mr. Limpet became a talking fish.
During the war Henry Limpet wants to join the navy and fight for his country but his eyesight and weak body disqualifies him. The only thing Henry loves more than his country is fish. Henry has hundreds of pet fish which drives his wife Bessie crazy and his friend George thinks is just plain weird.
One day when he’s feeling at his worse he stares into the lake and wishing he was a fish. Suddenly he falls in the water and is transformed… for no explainable reason. There wasn’t toxic waste, or blue fairy… just Limpet’s heart’s desire.
The US navy quickly decides that a talking and patriotic fish is exactly what they need to stop the nazis.
Limpet falls in love with a female fish (creatively named Lady-Fish) and we can only assume Fish sex occurs in the future. This is a weird aspect of semi-beastality, but that’s not unseen for this movie. The film makes quite a few logic leaps and is constantly just barely scraping the belly of being entertaining or interesting.
I think if you were reading this it’s easy for you to assume that I hate this movie, but I don’t. I’m sure nostalgia is part of it there’s something charming about the sincerity to the ridiculousness of the movie. Sure there’s plenty of goofy double takes throughout but there’s also straight faced discussions of the importance of this fish’s contribution to the war. Regardless of the film’s faults it remains a nostalgic favorite of mine and apparently for many others as well.
Since the 90’s they considered remaking it. The first attempt had Jim Carrey in mind (which is as good of a casting choice as you could hope for you). That film never happened but it recently was discussed as Zach Galifianakis vehicle (which seems more like a joke than a sincere casting decision) although with Kevin Lima (A Goofy Movie) directing it might have been decent. Both Lima and Galifianakis dropped out and now it’s currently being discussed with Richard Linklater as the director which makes absolutely no sense.
Despite it’s very average 50% rating on rotten tomatoes the film helped to launch Don Knotts’ career from a TV star to a movie star. It also lead to him acting in far superior films including my personal favorite Knotts film The Ghost & Mr. Chicken.
The Incredible Mr. Limpet is currently on Instant Watch, go rediscover it!
When Matt Kelly isn’t defending animated fish comedies of the 60’s he’s blogging, tweeting and producing his podcast the Saint Mort Show (check out this week’s episode with Joe Whiteford and Chad Neidt)