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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Wild Thing

Something Wild (1986) on IMDb

Plot Overview

To David Byrne's world music beat (“like a pizza in the rain”), the cameras pan a New York cityscape bordering the river coming to rest on a black­a­moor shouldering a boom box. Inside a café filled with all shapes and sizes, an exotic woman is reading a book that from its cover appears to be Indian. Mem­sahib glances up to observe a suit tapping away on his adding machine. The man seeing the place is busy absconds with­out paying his check. The woman follows him out­side to confront him: “You didn't pay your bill, big boy.” Never­the­less, she pegs him as “a closet rebel” and offers him a lift back to his office.

Free-spirited “Lulu” (Melanie Griffith) speedily diverts to a “shortcut” into New Jersey, makes a convenience store stop—that's a little more convenient for her than for the clerk who wasn't watching his till—, and reaches a destination of sorts. When uptight yuppie Charlie Driggs (Jeff Daniels) asks what she'd doing, she says, “getting a room.” She asks him for money … “for the room; the rest is free,” but Charlie is reluctant to dip into his Christmas fund for cash, where­upon Lulu chides him for backing out of a good thing now for the sake of a Christmas to come, it being but June. I'm not saying Charlie makes the right choice here, but it works in a movie called “Some­thing Wild.”

From there Lulu takes him “back to Pennsylvania where I grew up”, introduces him to her mother Peaches (Dana Preu) who shares some back­ground revelations about Lulu—her real name being Audrey Hankel. “She's got some strange notions about life,” her mom says. And Charlie confesses his marital status, “It's kinda complicated.” They end up at Audrey's Spirit of '76 Revisited reunion where they happen upon Charlie's accountant Larry who is witnessing a new, wild side of him, and a scary parolee Ray Sinclair (Ray Liotta) with whom Audrey had led some kind of ‘Bonnie & Clyde‘ existence in which she was the conservative half. From here things take a turn for the worse.


Audrey admonishes Ray that violence is not the answer, telling him, “What goes around comes around.” This saying is evidently derived from, (Prov. 26:27) “he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him,” although here it gets applied to a knife blade—or rather vice versa.

What starts as screwball comedy ends as film noir when someone dies. It's as the preacher says, (Eccl. 9:3) “This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all: yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead.” We get inklings along the way that it's a mad world by observing a menagerie of characters who pass by on-screen during the road trip(s), including a rumble of rival bike gangs, a well attended black church whose congregants act like their religion means some­thing, and a picture of the sacred heart of Jesus on the wall of a conservative mom.

One character tells Charlie it's “better to be a live dog than a dead lion.” When Charlie's chained to the plumbing and the psycho­path is busy doing his business in the next room, does Charlie try to dislodge the pipes and get drenched trying to escape, or does he politely wait for psycho-man to come free him? As he puts it to his book­keeper, “Larry, it's better to be a live dog than a dead lion.”

We come back to, (Eccl. 9:4-6) “For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is for­gotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.” There is a moment in the film when the camera ignores a fatal knife wound and focuses on a closeup of a face that's just realized his drama has come to an end and he's no longer a player. There's also reflection on what one is doing with his life that's over all too soon.

Production Values

“Something Wild” (1986) was directed by Jonathan Demme. It was written by E. Max Frye. It stars Jeff Daniels, Melanie Griffith, and Ray Liotta. Melanie Griffith and Jeff Daniels gave excellent performances with each other. Ray Liotta as Audrey's psychotic husband was phenomenal.

This movie is rated R. The director Jonathan Demme was at one time a music critic in London; he brings an eclectic mix of musical styles to this movie. The sound­track contains cuts from the 1980s from the likes of New Order, Fine Young Cannibals, and UB40. There was plenty of reggae/ska/rock and some live enter­tain­ment clips from the “Feelies” here playing the “Willies” at a reunion. The theme song seems to be, appropriately enough, “Wild Thing.” The name Lulu was a take­off from Louise Brooks in “Pandora's Box.”

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This is one fine movie on many levels. There's a major change of tone in the middle of it but the transition is natural. The wildness of the principals seems to be shared in one form or another by every extra who graces the screen. This film manages to be blatantly crazy and subtly philosophical at the same time. You're sure to get your money's worth.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good Date Movie. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Five stars out of five.