Back again youngins! We dabble back into Before They Were Stars week with Ray Liotta’s first film. What happens when a yuppie encounters a free spirit and goes on a wild ride? Headaches, heartache and a potential relationship is most likely. Grab some Jiffy Pop, snag a MexiCoke and plop it on the couch. This is Something Wild.
Spoilers channel rebellion into the mainstream….
Screenwriter E. Max Frye (Amos & Andrew, Palmetto, Where the Money Is and Second Nature) and director Jonathan Demme , a former exploitation and Roger Corman protégé(Caged Heat, Crazy Mama, Last Embrace, Philadelphia, and Silence of the Lambs) captures the imagination with this screwball comedy throwing two completely different people in to a bizarre series of adventures. This is loosely referred as part of Demme’s small-town trilogy of which started with the 1977 Handle With Care (starring Paul Le Mat, Candy Clark and Bruce McGill) and Melvin & Howard (starring again Paul Le Mat, Jason Robards and Mary Steenburgen)
Anal retentive straight laced Wall Street tax accountant Charlie Driggs (Jeff Daniels of Checking Out, Arachnophobia, The Butcher’s Wife, Timescape, Speed and Dumb & Dumber) gets a ride to work from her only to be abducted by a freewheeling, adventure seeking girl Lulu a.k.a. Audrey Hankel (Melanie Griffith of Working Girl, Cherry 2000, In the Spirit, The Bonfire of the Vanities, Mulholland Falls and Another Day in Paradise) Charlie was protests at this crazy ride due to his new promotion, his meetings he must attend, the reports to write and various calls to return.
Lulu is dragging him off from his tried and true everyday life and asks him to pretend to be her husband for her mom’s sake and her 10th year high school reunion. Lulu robs a liquor store for some scotch and whatever was in the till, drags Charlie to a motel, cuffing him to the bed and well…you kinda have to see the scene. As this road trip is under way Ray Sinclair (Ray Liotta of Field of Dreams, Goodfellas, Unlawful Entry, No Escape, Corrina, Corrina and Unforgettable) Lulu’s ex-con, ex-husband is tracking her down. He’s pinning to get back together but really unable to confer his full ration of emotions leads to fight scenes, screaming matches and sheer insanity. You don’t see just an abusive thug in Liotta’s portrayal but a man at the end of his rope one minute and then a level headed cat the next.
A lot of this movie feels like it is pointing out facets of 1980’s America from the love and worship of pop culture to how the other halves live. While three protagonists are all white, the background of this road trip has an absorbent amount of black actors playing church members, musicians, waiters, gas attendants and hitchhikers. I guess the main theme is to point out how the Reagan years were not the best for everyone and these are some of the folk that simply got the short end of the stick. You get the feeling the influences of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet or perhaps Martin Scorsese’s After Hours. The whole Yuppie Angst angle that was very popular in both TV and movie. Yeah ,30 Something didn’t make much sense to me even then. It is a dark comedy, a romantic comedy and worth of the road trips of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.