Something Wild (1986) - Rotten Tomatoes

Something Wild (1986)



Critic Consensus: Boasting loads of quirky charm, a pair of likable leads, and confident direction from Jonathan Demme, Something Wild navigates its unpredictable tonal twists with room to spare.

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Movie Info

Uptight tax consultant Charlie Driggs (Jeff Daniels) is picked up by eccentric free-thinker Audrey "Lulu" Hankel (Melanie Griffith). Although he's not entirely certain how he's going to explain his sudden disappearance to his wife and his boss, Charlies accompanies Lulu on an impulsive journey to the farthest reaches of New Jersey. The mismatched pair comes in contact with a steady stream of oddball hitchhikers; Lulu swigs liquor by the quart, then buys Charlie a bizarre new set of clothes; she introduces Charlie as her husband to her friends and relatives; and, as a capper, the couple is held hostage by a holdup man (Ray Liotta), who forces them to participate in a robbery. Somehow or other, Charlie survives his descent into insanity and returns to his own world....then discovers that he just can't live without Lulu. Something Wild was director Johnathan Demme's first fiction feature after the big-budget box-office disappointment Swing Shift (1984).more
Rating: R (adult situations/language, nudity, violence)
Genre: Drama, Art House & International, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: E. Max Frye
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 5, 2001
Orion Pictures Corporation

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Jeff Daniels
as Charles Driggs
Melanie Griffith
as Lulu / Audrey Hankel
Ray Liotta
as Ray Sinclair
Jack Gilpin
as Larry Dillman
Tracey Walter
as The Country Squire
Su Tissue
as Peggy Dillman
Dana Preu
as Peaches
John Sayles
as Motorcycle Cop
John Waters
as Used Car Guy
Charles Napier
as Irate Chef
Leib Lensky
as Frenchy
as Motorcycle Dog
Patricia Falkenhain
as Charlie's Secretary
Sandy McLeod
as Graves' Secretary
Robert Ridgely
as Richard Graves
Buzz Kilman
as TV Newscaster
Jim Roche
as Motel Philosopher
Max the Dog
as Himself
The Texas Kid
as Hitchhiking Cowboy
D. Byron Hutcherson
as Hitchhiking Kid
Eleana Hutcherson
as Hitchhiking Kid
Thomas Cavano
as Guitar Player
Dorothy Demme
as Junk Store Gal
Emma Bryne
as Junk Store Gal
Ardella Mary Drew
as Donna Penski
T. Maggie
as Country Squire Bulld...
Lee Joseph Davis
as James Williams
Edward Saxon
as Kevin Stroup
James Hurd
as Stylish Reunion Coup...
Joanna Kitchen-Hurd
as Stylish Reunion Coup...
Gary Goetzman
as Guido Paonessa
Dung Chau
as Robbery Victim
Steve Scales
as `Nelson'
John Montgomery
as Harmonica Slim
Heather Shaw
as Choir Girl
Vic Blair
as Cowboy Maitre d'
Johnny Marrs
as Motorcycle Driver
K. Marilee Smith
as Police Officer
R. Jeffery Rioux
as Police Officer
Jeff Herig
as Police Officer
Gil Lazier
as Homicide Detective
Anna Levine
as The Girl in 3F
The Crew
as Gas Station Rapper
The Feelies
as The Willies
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News & Interviews for Something Wild

Critic Reviews for Something Wild

All Critics (32) | Top Critics (7)

It begins with a meet-cute and ends with a murder, and sandwiched in between those emotional extremes are romance, regret and revenge.

Full Review… | May 17, 2011
Top Critic

Jonathan Demme's picaresque joyride across the American landscape is still arguably the best thing he's ever done.

Full Review… | December 26, 2006
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Demme observes the human eccentricity that underlies the corner-store banalities of Middle America with warmth and loving detail; while a magnificent rock soundtrack and faultless performances from Daniels, Griffith and Liotta ensure pleasures galore.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The film's principal difficulty is E. Max Frye's original screenplay, which is better thought out in terms of its narrative than of the characters.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

A load of fun.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

Despite the quirky trappings, Something Wild is often as tame as its star couple, a pair who scream Ivory soap and plenty of Miracle Whip.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Something Wild

Original rating of 3 stars holds after rewatch. Hadn't seen this one since the 90's.
It's a patchy 80's film with some fun fashions and situations, but it's not amazing.
Melanie looks much better with the black wig on, too, I have to say. The short blonde hair is horrific!

Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer


Sort of a more up to date version of 'After Hours' with a more extreme, loud and in your face storyline as Daniels is dragged from one humiliating scene to another by wild child Griffiths who at first seems determined to get Daniels into trouble.

Sure enough Griffiths character slowly gets Daniels in all heaps of bother as they evade checks and steal money from stores, its kinda predictable but not as uneasy watching as 'After Hours' as its more 'out there' and regular people are less likely to do that sort of thing haha

Casting is abit off for me in this as Griffiths never was much to look at in my opinion and she hardly comes across as a law breaker whilst Daniels has never really been a good actor from day one haha.
Things get better acting wise when Liotta turns up as the crazy jealous ex-con but the plot gets alittle out of hand too as things go from light hearted comedy to dark and uncomfortable, as only Liotta knows how, and the film becomes less enjoyable really.

Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer


Before eccentric love stories were popularized by hipsters and Michael Cera, there was Something Wild, a dangerous, insanity ridden, lustful adventure, from the mind of Jonathan Demme. The story revolves around yuppie Charlie, and indelicate Lulu, road tripping from New York to Pennsylvania, without any explanation on Lulu's part. As Charlie is seduced and easily manipulated into committing crimes and riding along with the odd Lulu, we ourselves are dejecting reality for a couple hours and falling in love with a nut job incapable of being rational. Once Lulu's true identity is revealed, and an unsavory husband, the story takes a dramatic turn, that of abuse and obsession, perpetrated by the always dark and comically insane Ray Liotta. Between the reggae covers featured in an almost diegetic way, and the bouts of incessant violence by Lulu and Ray, it's a movie split between two different plots, or more likely, personalities. Wild in every sense of the word, this is definitely perfect casting for Griffith, who is basically portraying herself, and Daniels, who is always good for a semi-gullible and yet so charismatic lead. Great road movie, great romantic drama/comedy, this is something wild.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

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