Something Wild: Jonathan Demme’s exuberant, endlessly watchable ’80s classic

Oozing with a beautiful, exuberant and reckless charm, ‘Something Wild’ was one of Jonathan Demme’s best (and somewhat underappreciated?) films before he went on to garner much critical acclaim and accolades with the cult, multiple Academy award-winning serial killer drama ‘The Silence of the Lambs’.

The relationship between the two main characters, Charlie & Lulu (Jeff Daniels & Melanie Griffith), is set up quickly within the first 5 minutes, followed by a fun, life-altering road trip for the perpetually nervous and cautious Charlie. He is given a few lessons about dealing with life’s trivial problems from Lulu, who looks like a tarot card reader from the ’70s, with her colorful, hippie get-up and emerald green-colored vintage automobile. Their journey is accompanied by a wonderfully apt, ’80s soundtrack.

The film gets an extra boost of energy and fiery excitement when Lulu’s ex-husband Ray (Ray Liotta) — who happens to be an ex-convict — shows up and becomes a heavy risk factor for both of them. The chemistry between Daniels and Griffith is dazzling; the two make an effervescent couple. Daniels is at his mischievous, hyperactive best and Griffith sets the screen on fire with her youthful, happy-go-lucky, pre-plastic surgery glory. However, it’s Liotta’s coolly wicked personality that completely overshadows them both. Four years later he would go on to accomplish much bigger things with Martin Scorsese’s ‘Goodfellas’.

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