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4.4 out of 5 stars
Something Wild (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2000
I thought Demme walked on water after seeing this movie (and its follow-ups, Married to the Mob and Silence of the Lambs). I love the layers of texture to this movie--there's always some set decoration I never noticed before, and the performances he wrings out of his stable of actors is great. This movie defined "alternative" when it was released, and deftly pulled off the seemingly impossible feat of starting out screwball comedy and turning violent halfway thru without losing its voice. All three leads have never done better than they did here (okay, maybe Liotta in Goodfellas). So why is SW subjected to the basement of video VHS? This movie made tons of critics top 10 lists for the Eighties (sadly not much of a challenge, but still...) and yet can't even get a DVD date to prom. Wild...
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2002
I first saw this movie in the theaters, and I remember sitting spellbound, utterly enthralled by the adept manner in which Jonathan Demme blends comedy, romance, drama, and suspense in a single film. For years, I would catch it whenever I could on cable -- or, if I were hanging with a "virgin" friend who had never before seen the film, I'd scrounge up a rental copy (pan-n-scan, of course) at the local video store. All told, I've seen it about a dozen times, twice as many times as I have seen any other movie -- but only once in the widescreen format in which it was originally composed.
When people ask me what my favorite movie is, I tell them without hesitation, "Something Wild." Inevitably, a look of comprehension is absent from their face. I briefly explain the plot, describe Melanie Griffith in the black wig, Jeff Daniels as the nebbishy accountant, and Ray Liotta as the Lulu's sinister ex-con (IMHO, career-best performances for all three), and faces begin to light up. Most people have caught at least a part of this film on Comedy Central and recognize it (if only slightly) from those heavily edited screenings, which is a shame because this movie needs to be seen in its unexpurgated form in order to really gain an appreciation of its genius.
So you can imagine my delight when I opened a birthday gift from my girlfriend and found inside a copy of "Something Wild" on DVD. If I were capable of squealing, I would have. You see, I was under the impression that this was one of those "lost titles" that would never be released on DVD. Yet there it was, in my hands, a true cinematic masterpiece, one of the best films of the 80s, my favorite movie. Sigh. What a great birthday present!
Now that I have recovered from the initial giddiness of actually owning the flick and watched it once or twice, I can report objectively that the DVD release isn't perfect. The transfer is average (but nevertheless widescreen -- yay!), with a slightly washed-out look that minimizes some of the impact of the garish 80s couture. And the disk is pretty straightforward. You can select from 16 scenes, watch in the original English or dubbed Spanish, watch with French or Spanish subtitles, and view an irrelevant theatrical trailer. Or, you can just live with the fact that this great film is finally available on DVD and watch it start to finish, over and over again.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 1999
I realize it might be a little late, but to the student from Santa Clara, to proclaim "Something Wild" as a deeply religious movie would not be too far off the mark. Director Jonathan Demme uses an abundance of crosses and portraits of the Virgin Mary in many scenes (at "Mom and Dad's Restaurant"; "Peaches"'s house; Lulu's apartment) and many scenes from the film mirror the Good Samaritan parable of the Bible: the hitchhikers Charlie and Lulu pick up; the little black girl who asks Charlie if he needs help outside the gospel church; the naive teen who pays for Ray's dinner after Charlie and Lulu leave him stranded at the restaurant; the gas-station attendant ("Attempt to be cool!"); the man at the motel who offers Charlie Pepto-Bismol to conquer his hangover ("It's better to be a live dog than a dead lion."); and ultimately Charlie and Lulu, who each gives the other something they've been longing to have. Lulu gives Charlie a rebellion which had only previously been "channeled into the mainstream" and thusly ends his repression; and Charlie gives Lulu a sense of comfort and love after years of one-night stands in motel rooms. I'm sure you could even make something out of the religious radio program Ray is listening to as he is embarking for an all-night search for revenge. Of course I have seen this film many times and one of its many strengths is its watchability. Why this film isn't cited in more film-buff circles is beyond me, but let me go on record saying that this is a great movie. It is precisely these deep subtexts which make me want to pop it in the VCR for the millionth time. Well, that and the soundtrack. I love this movie simply because it's so damn quirky! Besides, when's the last time a movie had the nerve to end on such a bizarre note as this one and still not seem tacked on? Of course let me warn you, do NOT view this movie on Comedy Central: they edit so much out and break so frequently for commercials that the spontaneity one gets from watching this movie for the first time is lost. I suggest renting this movie, turning out all the lights and popping it in the VCR at midnight or so. Trust me, there's magic in it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2003
First, the music in this movie. Director Jonathan Demme has always put good songs in, but "Something Wild" might be the best example. Just about every song used reminds me of the good things about inventive creative music from the 80's, while leaving the garbage out. Thus the "time capsule" header, as this is the way I'd like to remember that era.
The movie itself is a wild roller coaster that is somewhat of an updated version of a Hitchcock movie. The comparison here is based on an everyday guy getting himself drawn deeper and deeper in to a situation, where he not only at times escape is fairly difficult, but he'll eventually have to fight for his life.
But what makes it more intriguing is that when the everyday guy does get a chance to escape, he finds his situation so intriguing that he changes his mind. He not only spies on the situation he probably should be running away from as fast as he can, but he also confronts it in one of the most ballsy scenes in movie history. The restaurant scene where he virtually walks in and takes the girl from the nasty bad guy is a cinematic treat.
So is the casting. Jeff Daniels is perfect as the everyday guy. It's disappointing to see Melanie Griffith today, because in this movie she absolutely sizzles as the bad girl who gets him into the predicament, but also has a good side that wants to get out of the bad life. And the screen debut of Ray Liotta is absolutely electrifying as an intelligent violent man, and I'm sure this is what got him the recognition that led to "Goodfellas". I'm amazed that I saw this movie while well into my adult life, and considering that was already sixteen years ago, I'm starting to feel old again.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
An interesting choice for the Criterion label, I have hoped desperately that Jonathan Demme's 1986 madcap road picture "Something Wild" would get a deserving upgrade from its rather drab earlier DVD presentation. I actually went to a theater and saw this film twice and it is easily one of my favorite Demme pictures. With his eclectic resume, Demme will perhaps always be known best for "The Silence of the Lambs" but his legacy has several terrific screwball comedies (Married to the Mob) and understated masterpieces (Melvin and Howard) prior to him being anointed an Academy Award winner. "Something Wild" fits comfortably into the screwball comedy category--but what makes it so unorthodox and refreshing is that it has both heart and edge. A lot has changed since 1986. Back then, Jeff Daniels was still a leading man as opposed to a character actor. Melanie Griffith was sexy, surprising, and a blossoming talent. And a relatively unknown Ray Liotta was trying to break into a big screen career after years on television. These three leads turned in unexpectedly strong performances and ALL were nominated for Golden Globe awards.

Styled after silent screen star Louise Brooks, Griffith vibrantly portrays Lulu (at least, that's the name she calls herself). Wild, aggressive, and sexually uninhibited, Lulu crosses paths with Daniels' uptight businessman. Challenged by the rebellious free spirit, Daniels' mild mannered existence is all but hijacked by adventure as the unlikely duo take to the road. A culture clash and wacky hilarity ensue--but then the picture softens as a real persona emerges from beneath the Lulu alter ego. As tentative romance and understanding bubble to the surface when the couple reach Griffith's home town, a further complication arises in the character of her violent ex-con ex-husband (that's one too many exes to sit comfortably with me--it's Liotta and you know he's trouble!). A real dangerous undertone pervades the final acts of the film--and the movie shifts again for its final transition. Going from ribald to heartfelt to thrilling, "Something Wild" crosses genre boundaries even as it's a quintessential romantic comedy.

This is Daniels at his most appealing--this with "The Purple Rose of Cairo" remind you how dashing he could be. Griffith is so strong. She really has to embody a tremendous character arc and she does so with precision. But the break-out star has to be Liotta, magnetic and absolutely chilling. I think it's one of the most undervalued supporting performance of that era! The film also boast a smart screenplay and a distinguished soundtrack. Not only do I think that the film holds up well to the nostalgia factor, I think it's primed to be discovered anew.

However, it is with much regret that I report that the usually impressive Criterion treatment seems a tad lackluster. The film receives a new, and much needed, restored digital transfer (with a DTS-HD Master Audio Soundtrack for Blu-ray). The extras? Not much. The DVDs have only new interviews with the writer and Demme and the film's trailer. Really? What's up with that? The movie is only 25 years old, there has to be supplemental material to include and Demme is still cranking out A-list projects. So my happiness at the Criterion treatment is short-lived with a big fat zero in special features. Great movie, glad it's re-mastered, but still disappointed! KGHarris, 2/11.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2011
As usual, The Criterion Collection provides a bevy of wonderful films alongside easily the greatest assortment of supplementary materials. But what can be debated are the choices of the films chosen.

SOMETHING WILD is by no means a top AFI pick or all-time blockbuster hit or any of the traditional benchmarks of a notable film - except for one. Directed by Jonathan Demme, SOMETHING WILD came at a time when Demme began to take the wonderful tools he had learned studying Hitchcock and working with Roger Corman to more mainstream audiences. After making the highly under-appreciated MELVIN & HOWARD, Demme finally grabbed some national attention with his Talking Heads' documentary STOP MAKING SENSE, and then came SOMETHING WILD.

Don't lie to yourself. Loving this movie because Melanie Griffith is topless with handcuffs in the first ten minutes isn't wrong. It's part of the film's undeniable charm. You never know where this film is going to go from one moment to the next. And it includes a handful of wonderful cameos which further film's feeling of a gem that is being rediscovered.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2001
After recently re-watching "Something Wild", I was reminded why Jonathan Demme was one of the more promising new directors of the 80's,before being reduced to a hired hand on Oprah Winfrey's ego project "Beloved". Melanie Griffith and Jeff Daniels (before his one-note aw-shucks Jimmy Stewart persona became tiresome)give top performances as the kooky free spirit and the (initially) uptight yuppie. Demme successfully blends classic 30's-style screwball comedy with some surprisingly frank sexuality (for a Hollywood film). A mid-80's zeitgeist fills each scene with rich neon colors and a very hip selection of music. The introduction of Ray Liotta's well played, menacing psycho ex-husband character, while initially jarring, saves the film from becoming merely a collection of zany, episodic vignettes, adding interesting dramatic tension. There are also enough subtle layers to the characters that make the film worth repeated viewings. A definite sleeper that has aged well.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon July 6, 2009
Everything seems to have gone right here -- from the unpretentious comedy that Jonathan Demme used to specialize in directing, to the original story by E. Max Frye, to the excellent work of Tak Fujimoto, Gary Goetzman, and the rest of the crew from that era. One of the interesting things about Something Wild is that it really gets a lot of traction dramatically and most of the comedy doesn't consist of one-liners but original, funny situations. The actors earned their paychecks: Melanie Griffith is incredibly endearing in this role, Jeff Daniels has never been better, and once Ray Liotta shows up the film takes on an entirely different energy.

I would warn you not to watch this with your friends who think "Family Guy" and other post-2000 comedy is the greatest stuff ever made. This film is definitely not for people who want obvious pop-culture references and extreme caricatures -- Something Wild is too good to be wasted on people wanting just a bunch of cheap laughs.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2005
A straight-laced banker (Jeff Daniels) is confronted by a woman (Melanie Griffith) after walking out of a restaurant without paying; rather than turning him in, she invites him to come with her--and there begins a wild and eventually tragic weekend. She takes him first to a motel to make love, then home to her mother, then to her 10th-year high school reunion, where she meets an old hoodlum flame (Ray Liotta). They rob a store and Liotta kidnaps Griffith, so Daniels decides to rescue her. The best part of the movie is the first half, where nothing makes sense and everything is a surprise: there's total unpredictability and Daniels is basically helpless. Things get fuzzy after he decides to rescue Griffith, but he's broken from the "chains" (routine, dullsville) that have bound him before he met her. Quite a romp.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2004
"Something Wild" is an early Melanie Griffith film from 1986. It went by unnoticed on its theatrical release, but quickly found an audience on video. It's full of laughs!
Melanie Griffith plays Lulu, a fun-loving lady with a shady past. She stumbles across Jeff Daniels one day in a diner and is drawn to him through his attempt to leave without paying. Next thing the two of them are on a wild journey full of funny situations. However, its not all fun! There are some genuine scary and tense moments in the film when Lulu's ex-husband turns up. But these help add spark to the film and make it one of the great films of the 80's.
Something Wild" is one of those special films that comes along once in awhile. It's also one of those films you can watch over and over, I just love it! Along with "Working Girl", this is one of Melanie Griffith's shining moments.
DVD SUMMARY: Let me begin by saying that I was thrilled to obtain this on DVD, after owning a rather poor quality pan/scan video version of it. The DVD is in widescreen anamorphic, and while the transfer is not exactly clear and pristine, it is accceptable considering its age. Special features include a trailor.
SOMETHING WILD is a must-own DVD. Grab it before it goes out of print.
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