Something Wild

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A Hipper-Than-Thou romantic comedy centered around a woman who sports a Louise Brooks haircut and accordingly calls herself "Lulu," listens to a steady diet of Third World rock, reads biographies of people like Frida Kahlo and Winnie Mandela, sips Seagram's 7 from dawn till lights-out, makes left-hand turns across three lanes of traffic, helps herself to money from unprotected cash registers, has a tattoo on her backside -- oh, wait, that's the actress, Melanie Griffith, isn't it? Anyway, you get the idea. And all this in the interest of self-expression and self-fulfillment and other forms of selfery. She fastens herself onto a button-down-collared Wall Street type played by Jeff Daniels (and soon fastens him to a motel-room bed with a pair of handcuffs-for-fun) after his furtive attempt to welsh on a lunch check at a greasy-spoon diner reveals him to her discerning eye as a "closet rebel." All she really wants with him (at first) is to pass him off to the folks back home in Pennsylvania as her husband. The movie never adequately addresses the question of why a woman like this one would feel compelled to present an image of normalcy to her mother (who instantly sees through the ruse) and her classmates at the Ten-Year Reunion. Possibly the thinking was that comedy so conventional, with evanescent sparks thrown off by the familiar friction between the hip and the square, would need no basis in logic, would be swallowed out of unthinking habit. And anyway, the comedy is not all so conventional, or rather the conventionality is not all so comic. This first stretch of the movie, however, goes on much too long to serve as a mere lulling set-up to the serious turn of events when the reunion party is crashed by another unlikely attendee, the heroine's high-school flame (Ray Liotta, a Method School version of young Jeffrey Hunter), fresh out of prison. Events then turn very ugly indeed, much more so than necessary for mere jarring contrast, and much more so than reasonable for a final return to comic conventionality. Directed by Jonathan Demme. (1986) — Duncan Shepherd

Rated R | 1 hour, 54 minutes
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