“Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up.”

In the course of a conversation this week, the topic turned to how you cope when you’re stuck on a project with incredibly stupid people. The answer, at least in my experience, is to wrap everything up as quickly as possible and move on so you don’t have to work with them anymore.

Which in turn led me to recall one of the great stupid movie characters of all time, Kevin Kline’s Oscar-winning portrayal of the stupefyingly dense and vulgar Otto, from A Fish Called Wanda. Through the miracle of IMDB’s Memorable Quotes, I bring you these immortal insults:

Wanda: He doesn’t have a clue.
Archie: What?
Wanda: He’s so dumb…
Archie: Really?
Wanda: …he thought that the Gettysburg Address was where Lincoln lived.

Wanda: To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people. I’ve known sheep who could outwit you. I’ve worn dresses with higher IQs, but you think you’re an intellectual, don’t you, ape?
Otto: Apes don’t read philosophy.
Wanda: Yes they do, Otto, they just don’t understand it.

Wanda: Aristotle was not Belgian, the principle of Buddhism is not “every man for himself”, and the London Underground is not a political movement. Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up.

John Cleese was nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay, and Charles Crichton (who shared screenplay credit) was nominated for Best Director. (It was hard to compete with Rain Man that year, which won both those awards.)

If the movie were being made today, of course, that last line would be, “Those are all mistakes, Otto. I Googled them.”

5 thoughts on ““Those are all mistakes, Otto. I looked them up.”

  1. Mustn’t forget “A chip up the nose!”

    At one of my earlier jobs a number of other employees had to suffer the presence of a fellow who was probably not stupid per se, but had such bizarre conceits about things that it produced the same net effect. There was an argument about the use of the word “the” — his words were something like, “We say, ‘The Beatles’ when we talk about the band, but how come we don’t say, ‘The IBM’ when we talk about the company?” (He was a native English speaker, so he didn’t have the excuse of unfamiliarity with the language.)

    Attempts to explain why this was not so all failed miserably. After a while he left the company to the immense relief of everyone who actually paid attention to how the language worked.

  2. If our “syntax standard bearer”, GW Bush can call it “the Google”, why can’t we call it “the IBM”, and more so, why not “Smokey -the- Bear” while we’re at it?

    “the” mgo

  3. One of my favorite movies. I love this scene:

    Otto:[puts a bag over Archie’s head] Hello, Mr. Burglar! Going somewhere? Thought you could rob Mr. Leach, eh? Well, I’m going to teach you a lesson!
    [kicks him in the stomach]
    Otto: He just happens to be a very good friend of mine!
    Archie: Otto! Otto! Otto!
    Otto: [comes back with a long-handled pan] And he’s going to be very pleased with me to find you here, all tied up and ready for the police!
    [knocks Archie out with a pan]
    Otto: And don’t call me “Otto.” To you, I am “Mr…”
    [stops, lifts bag, sees it’s Archie, screams]
    Otto: Oh, my God… Oh… Oh my God. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
    [pats Archie’s face]
    Otto: Please, I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I didn’t know it was you. How could I know it was you? I mean, how could you expect me to guess? Stupid jerk! I mean, what the f**k were you doing robbing your own house?
    [kicks Archie in the stomach]
    Otto: You asshole! You stupid, stiff, pompous, English…!
    [screams and recoils]
    Otto: I’m sorry! I’m sorry. Uh… uh… yeah.

  4. I once worked with a chap we called “Black Cloud”. If you had a silver lining he had the black cloud to fit it in to. Every down-side or negative viewpoint would be found by him on seconds on any topic.

    We avoided him like plague.

    He had other strange habits. Once, his wife bought a loo-brush with a mahogany handle. His bathroom was panelled in Beech. He went and bought mahogany varnish and spent the weekend redoing his bathroom.

    Last I heard, he was working for SAP….. :-O

Comments are closed.