Sometimes you have to search high and low, but you really can find some interesting films made in the late 1980s. Though Jonathan Demme's film is not perfect, it still brilliantly outshines most of the crud made back then. Something Wild is the study of two souls who seem to come from different worlds going on a crazy road trip full of sex, violence, and even a high school reunion.
It all begins inside a tiny diner in New York City when openly free-spirited Audrey (Melanie Griffith) notices yuppie Charlie (Jeff Daniels) sneak out on paying his bill. She confronts him outside, and the two of them end up jumping in her car and taking off on a sunny Friday afternoon. At first it would seem that this trip across the state line will merely end in a sexual tryst in a cheap motel, but little does Charlie know, Audrey has all sorts of plans for him that weekend. After some serious hanky-panky, Audrey takes Charlie back to her home town, introduces him to her mother as her husband, and then takes him to her high school reunion. In a development a little bit contrived for this critic's liking, one of Charlie's co-workers also happens to be attending this reunion. This could potentially destroy the facade of the family man on a wild weekend that Charlie is trying to perpetrate. (at this point we learn his wife left him quite a while ago) Further complicating matters is the arrival of Audrey's psychotic ex-husband, played with fearsome intensity by Ray Liotta. From that point on, this film which has largely gone for laughs, becomes rather intense and often violent.
This film scores major points by absolutely keeping the audience guessing. At least until the third act when the film can likely conclude in no other way than it does. The film avoids making Charlie out to be a totally predictable sap who is just along for a wild ride with a crazy woman. Charlie has his own secrets, and a whole hidden side of his own that comes out when it has to. Demme places some marginally famous people in some truly odd cameos, and spends a little bit more time with peripheral characters than some people would. It gives the film a very "human" kind of feeling as we get to know at least a little something about even someone working as a waitress or at a motel. The film maybe meanders a bit here and there, but that is understandable since so much of it plays out like a road trip. The actors are exceptional, and the film is full of color and energy. Highly recommended. 9 of 10 stars.