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Something Wild

6.91 h 53 min198615
A conservative executive accepts a ride with a wild, eccentric woman, who takes him on an outrageous odyssey that turns both their worlds upside down.
Jonathan Demme
Dana PreuJack GilpinJeff Daniels
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Supporting actors
John SaylesJohn WatersMargaret ColinMelanie GriffithRay LiottaTracey Walter
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4.5 out of 5 stars

152 global ratings

  1. 70% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 18% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 5% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 4% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United Kingdom

Monty MarwoodReviewed in the United Kingdom on 12 September 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Modern Classic
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Something Wild sees the tight-assed Charles Driggs (the reliable Jeff Daniels) being bewitched, bothered and bewildered (though not necessarily in that order) by the bohemian Lulu (played by a surprisingly good Melanie Griffith). Much adventure ensues for the pair, some of which is comic in nature and some of which is of a much darker hue, especially when Lulu’s former partner Ray enters the picture (a mesmeric Ray Liotta in his first major role).

As one would expect from this plot synopsis, the tone of Something Wild is somewhat inconsistent – it’s part screwball comedy, part psycho thriller, part road movie, with some other genres thrown into the mix along the way. This could be seen as a fault in many movies (and indeed some criticised it for this at the time) but here it actually seems to help move the story along and prevent it from sagging at any point. It works, in other words, and one can’t help but root for the two protagonists throughout.

This movie made me sit up and take notice of Jonathan Demme as a director of some note at the time of its original release and I instantly became a fan. The next few films he made directly after Something Wild (which included Swimming To Cambodia, Married To The Mob, Philadelphia and Silence Of The Lambs) confirmed my initial instinct. Sadly though, nothing he made after this golden period matched the quality of these movies and by the 2000s his star had fallen somewhat.

Watching Something Wild back now, it’s clear that Martin Scorsese must have seen it before casting Ray Liotta in Goodfellas – Liotta’s performance as the charming but dangerous Ray is virtually an audition for the part of Henry Hill in the gangster classic. Also, as you’d expect from someone who directed Stop Making Sense, the use of music throughout the movie is a constant joy. Yes, it’s a tad 80s in flavour as one would expect but when that flavour includes songs by New Order, The Go-Betweens and Big Audio Dynamite then how can one resist?

As usual, the Criterion Collection Blu-ray version of the film is exemplary, with some great extras and an eye-poppingly good picture throughout. This is a film that deserves to be more well-known and so will hopefully gain a better reputation through time.
8 people found this helpful
Keith MReviewed in the United Kingdom on 30 May 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Superior (Quirky) Hollywood Comedy
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Director Jonathan Demme’s 1986 film remains one of my firm favourites among (more) recent Hollywood comedies – essentially post-Hawks, Wilder, Sturges, etc. Whilst Something Wild eventually develops into an admittedly fairly conventional romantic thread, the film, particularly during its first half, has much going for it – namely (as the title suggests) a zany and endearingly funny mood and plot, an outstanding music soundtrack and, most impressive of all, two irresistible lead performances by Jeff Daniels and Melanie Griffith as the seemingly unlikely romantic pairing of staid, conservative businessman, Charles Driggs, and spontaneous, strong-willed seducer, Lulu (aka Audrey Hankel). Demme’s two leads really do generate some palpable on-screen chemistry, Daniels reprising much of the wide-eyed innocence of his dual characterisation from a year earlier in Woody Allen’s masterpiece The Purple Rose of Cairo and the 'Louise Brooks-bobbed’ Griffith providing an exemplary mix of nonchalant rebellion and submerged angst.

The film’s standing joke, of Charles’'‘will he or won’t he?’ shake off his own personal (and social) shackles and embrace Lulu’s 'out there’ attitude, may be a little repetitive, but it is still very funny, primarily because of Daniels’ skilled performance. Adding another intriguing dimension, Demme and writer E Max Frye gradually reveal that neither of their main protagonists are quite what they seem and the film takes on an aura of poignancy as Audrey’s pretence involves taking Charles to see mom and paying a visit to her school reunion. Enter Ray Liotta as Audrey’s ex-, Ray Sinclair, fresh out of prison and a career delinquent. Liotta is typically effective (if lacking much in the way of character depth) as the quietly menacing Ray, setting up the film’s latter dark comic thriller thread as Ray and Charles vie for their place in securing Audrey’s future ‘happiness’. As an integral part of what is essentially an eccentric road trip movie is an impressively diverse soundtrack featuring the likes of David Byrne, The Troggs, Big Audio Dynamite, The Go-Betweens, New Order, Fine Young Cannibals and The Feelies (playing live at the film’s school reunion sequence – songs including David Bowie’s Fame and Neil Diamond/The Monkees’ I’m A Believer). The film also features acting cameos from film-makers John Waters and John Sayles.

For the film’s (unusually) 'in your face’ approach to comedy and, particularly, for the performances by Daniels and Griffith, for me, the film merits a top rating.
2 people found this helpful
schumann_bgReviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 June 2018
4.0 out of 5 stars
maybe a trip worth making ...
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Something Wild shoots itself in the foot in the first scene, for me, where we see Charlie (Jeff Daniels), who is a successful businessman, sneak out of a cafe without paying. This is passed off as showing he has a rebellious streak by an observer called Lulu, or later Audrey (Melanie Griffith), who comes after him and then drives him off on a mad near-rampage. It's clear she has a bit of a screw loose, and he does as well, although we don't really know what's going on for a while ... It is a sympathetic portrayal, I suppose; Daniels is very likeable as a screen presence, and Lulu, up to a point, but it doesn't take long before she is stealing whisky from a service station store and emptying the till, which also put me off her! So I couldn't quite go with this couple. The soundtrack is excellent, and keeps the tone zany and unpredictable, in keeping with the title, however there is something hollow as much as something wild. Decent fathers of two who've just been promoted don't walk out without paying ... when a truly psychotic character turns up, it means we really are at a loss, like being on an escapade in the wilds without a compass. Melanie Griffith needs to evoke that bit more pathos than she does, while the script lets down Daniels a bit. Liotta is very good. In the end, though, it plays a little too fast and loose with the film noir cliches. The final credits are a joy, a woman singing in front of a red wall, full of exuberance. There is plenty of that, too, an excellent soundtrack, and some alluring shots of all three actors - but even so, it feels a bit dated and just a bit unsatisfying.
2 people found this helpful
Spike OwenReviewed in the United Kingdom on 21 February 2011
4.0 out of 5 stars
She drives me crazy, ooh ooh.......
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Stiff and strait banker Charles Driggs (Jeff Daniels) meets sexy wild gal Audrey Hankel (Melanie Griffith) and quickly falls under her spell. Initially, and weakly protesting, he soon finds that her lifestyle adds the spark to his otherwise dull existence. However, things get troublesome when her violent ex-convict husband (Ray Liotta) shows up and announces that if he can't have her? Nobody can!

Something of a cult hit these days, Something Wild (directed by Jonathan "Silence Of The Lambs" Demme) has that nice trick of being able to pull us in early for the comedy, and then take us down a darker, but still comical, road. Daniels is always an affable and easy to watch actor, and nothing changes here, but it's Griffith and an early Liotta turn that steals the show. Griffith is a ball of sexuality, and she looks fabulous into the bargain. Her Audrey (AKA Lulu) has a few layers that need to be peeled by Griffith and she does it with style. Liotta serves notice of what was to come four years down the line when a certain Mr Scorsese came calling. Menacing yet fun into the bargain, it's very much the perfect Liotta role. Demme paints an interesting picture as he blends yuppiedom with rebellious excess, the result being a quirky little number that, save for an inevitability that comes with the finale, is a rewarding, time fulfilling experience. Margaret Colin, Tracey Walter, Su Tissue and Charles Napier join the principals in the cast, while the zippy 80s soundtrack contains cuts from some of the decades luminaries like New Order, Fine Young Cannibals & UB40. 7/10
4 people found this helpful
windywillReviewed in the United Kingdom on 04 June 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Oh Lulu, where were you when I needed you?
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With a great opening, the film's an outrageous, quirky comedy fun filled roller-coaster ride for the first hour with Melanie Griffith looking simply fantastic,delightfully mischievous and never sexier (ever!) and Jeff Daniels looking like he's lapping it all up and enjoying every damn minute of it. Just when you think it can't get any better, enter Ray Liotta and the film suddenly shifts gear, goes amazingly dark and it then plays as a neat comedic psycho thriller. Ray almost steals the show in his film debut, impressively conveying real menace in every scene he's in. The film ends on a slightly disappointing, typically 80's predictable note but overall the film's an overlooked little gem that really deserves a much wider audience.
K. HenryReviewed in the United Kingdom on 19 September 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Forgotten gem
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This review is for the Criterion Collection Blu Ray. Best picture and sound ever. This is one of my favourite, slightly offbeat films of the 80’s. A really black comedy, but with an underlying thread about the materialism of the time. Great acting all round, with Ray Liotta staking a claim to being one of the scariest movie villains of all time.
Mr. E. A. DobsonReviewed in the United Kingdom on 13 September 2014
5.0 out of 5 stars
Wild 80's Ride
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Something Wild & Married to the Mob are my favourite Jonathan Demme films. Although he went on to huge success in the 90's with Silence of the Lambs & Philladelphia, he never strayed too far from his independent roots. This could be watched as part of a trilogy of 80's yuppie nightmare movies which started in 1985 with After Hours (Martin Scorsese) & Into the Night (John Landis). Are there any others?
One person found this helpful
Ernie D'********oReviewed in the United Kingdom on 16 August 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
one of the best comedy films ive ever seem it takes a hell ...
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One of the best comedy films ive ever seem it takes a hell of a lot to make me laugh but Jeff Daniels is the guy that did just that its not all comedy there are some serious parts in the film when Ray Liotta comes on the scene and things get a bit wild awesome film,,buy it
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