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Believe it or not, I used to get Jonathan Demme and Joe Dante mixed up. I’ve done it a few times but Demme has been a favorite director of mine without me even knowing it, due to hearing about the movies he made but rarely ever setting out to watch any of them. The Silence of the Lambs was always on those AMC channel horror movie lists, and it freaked me out but caught my interest. Another of his films, Rachel Getting Married featured one of my favorite singers, Tunde Adebimpe, from the band TV on the Radio. And if I wasn’t already a curious fan, Demme directed the final film in the unofficial Wallace and Andre trilogy, A Master Builder. I will say, I have watched Stop Making Sense, which is a masterpiece of a concert film, but this tangent’s long enough as it is.
Something Wild is one of those movies that I feel goes so under the radar that, when you see it being advertised alongside all the other popular 80s films like Pretty in Pink or Howard the Duck, you wonder why you haven’t seen it or heard of it before, despite the Criterion Collection trailer playing it up like it’s a surefire hit. Me being a big Jeff Daniels fan makes me wonder why I haven’t seen it yet, and I love anything he has been in, yet the fun, fast-paced trailer makes me wonder if the film just didn’t get the push it needed to get noticed. It’s equal parts good soundtrack, bad news ending with a nice resolution, and sad redemption arc in the right place. I want to see how Daniels plays this one out and see everything he has to do to get over whatever hump that’s keeping him from living. With Something Wild, I figure it would be a good starting point to see more of Daniels’ other work.
Now, without taking up more time swooning over Jeff Daniels, let’s really dig into this movie. Understanding that it’s another one of those “fish out of water” films is a good start to watching Something Wild. I, for one, love coming into a movie that throws a clean-cut character into a wild and crazy scenario that’s not common in everyday life. “Mild-mannered so-and-so just happens to end up on the wrong side of a situation.” Those storylines fit right in with my “underdog getting his/her day in the sun” mindset. Daniels always gets kind of typecast as such in my eyes due to his goofy, soft yet tough demeanor. It plays well into the car chase scenes and evokes the Ray Liotta presence of evil that hangs above the two-minute trailer Criterion released for the movie’s Blu-ray release. I like how Liotta is also typecast in the film, which basically leads into his career of the bad guy or tough cop roles that he always seemed to get. It makes me wonder if Daniels and Liotta were almost meant to play these roles opposite each other, to show their range in acting out the underlying personality traits that they seem to have.
To think I gathered most of this from a two-minute trailer is something of a mystery, though. The trailer seems to want to pull people in by giving away a lot of the plot, while trying its best to still be a mystery to those wanting to see a quirky little rom-com about two people from opposite sides of the tracks coming together to feel each other out and try to make a happy little life for themselves. Fun fact: this is the second movie that I know of where Melanie Griffith has short blonde hair, the other movie being Body Double.
I figure, at this point, it’s best to say that Something Wild is a fun little oddity that slipped through the cracks and has become a cult hit amongst the ’80s movie boom. Something Wild should be a hit, and since it pays tribute to Ray Liotta, I am sure that sometime in the near future, it will become a classic in the eyes of those who watch rom-coms.
Something Wild screens at The Frida starting Friday, July 22nd.
Friday, Jul 22 – 7:30pm
Saturday, Jul 23 – 5:30pm
Sunday, Jul 24 – 5:30pm