14 February 2018



I've never liked Jeff Daniels as an actor. He's just so bland-faced, you know? I just never get a sense of strong character coming from him. He's good here as Charlie Driggs, though, maybe because he's playing a wishy-washy, tightly-buttoned-up businessman who's never made a spontaneous decision in his life, lol.

He's married with two kids and he's just been made Vice-President of his boring old company and this is, presumably, the most exciting thing that's ever happened to him. Good old Charlie plays things by the book. He needs a lesson in living, real living, but who's gonna teach him? That's where he's a bit stuck, you might say.

It's like when Ned Flanders in THE SIMPSONS realises one day that he's sixty-five and hasn't fully lived a day in his square, button-down life, so he goes to Homer Simpson, his neighbour, much to Homer's amusement, and asks him for a lesson in living.

Homer is only too happy to oblige, glad for once to have the edge over his annoying neighbour. Their legendary trip to Las Vegas leads to much boozing ('More libations, my Imperial Overlords?'), much vomiting and to Homer and Ned returning home bigamously married to two waitresses, Amber and Ginger. Can't wait till Marge and Maud hear about this...

Charlie Driggs doesn't have a yellow cartoon neighbour to turn to in his hour of need. The thing is, though, Charlie doesn't even realise that he needs help. His ordinary, rather dull life is what it is and what it's always been, world without end, Amen. I was misleading you a little bit, however, when I said that he's never made a spontaneous decision in his life...

Charlie occasionally indulges in little rebellions, for example, sometimes he leaves a diner without paying the bill, or the check, as the Yanks call it. It's like when a rich married woman or society matron steals from a department store, stuff she doesn't need and could easily afford to pay for. The stuff isn't the point, see? It's the thrill she gets from shoplifting that matters to her, the thrill of doing, for once, 'something wild...' 

As a quiet, law-abiding citizen myself, I've never seen the attraction in doing things that might land you in't'clink, as it were. Things that get you knocked-up and deeply hungover were, like, a million times more in my line, lol.

So one day anyway, a Friday lunchtime to be precise, Charlie doesn't pay his check and that's how he meets Lulu. No, she's not a pissed-off waitress, just another diner in a black bobbed wig and sunglasses and a ton of junk jewellery who likes the look of Charlie and sees in him the opportunity to have a little fun. She offers him a lift 'home,' but Charlie doesn't get home for days and days and days and, when he eventually does, he's not the guy he used to be...

Lulu is quirky, see? She wears colourful clothing, carries sex-handcuffs around in her handbag, steals from the till in liquor stores and generally behaves appallingly badly. Charlie is horrified by her irresponsible attitude at first but then he gradually becomes enchanted by it.

How heady it must be to live freely and carelessly like Lulu, he thinks. He's deeply attracted to her, the sex is good 'n' kinky (Melanie Griffith strips off in this, by the way) and Charlie, deep down, is probably fed-up with his boring, Goody-Two-Shoes life.

Crossing state lines as easily as pulling on a pair of socks, Lulu takes him to meet her mother, for which he must masquerade as her husband because Lulu is a pathological liar. A psychiatrist wouldn't be thinking how marvellously eccentric and free-spirited this girl is, they'd be wondering what the f**k had happened to her in her life and childhood to make her tell lies and change identities this handily? All the signs would point to some kind of abuse in her childhood or teens but this is a film, so things like this tend to get overlooked.

The Mum sees through the 'marriage' charade but she doesn't pull Lulu up on it. It very much looks like she's just a feeble enabler who pretends not to see things she doesn't like or can't understand and who has never tried to get her daughter the help she obviously needs.

Remember Alfred Hitchcock's film MARNIE? A majorly messed-up childhood has turned the stunning blonde Marnie into a liar and a thief. (Marnie is played, coincidentally enough, by Melanie Griffith's real-life mother, the fabulous Tippi Hedren.) 

If Sean Connery as Marnie's alpha-male husband hadn't taken the time and patience to rape her brutally on their cruise-ship honeymoon, who knows how the poor woman would have turned out? And yes, I'm being deeply, deeply sarcastic about Mark the husband's methods, lol.

Anyway, Charlie, still under strict orders to act as Lulu's 'husband,' gets dragged along to Lulu's tenth annual school reunion. Here he discovers quite a lot of things he hadn't known about his darling Lulu. Like her real name, for instance, and her marital status. Enter Ray, Lulu's handsome but undoubtedly psychotic husband...

Ray Liotta as Ray is positively sex-on-legs. Darkly gorgeous with fabulous eyes that always look like they're ringed with a natural eyeliner, he's like a bad-boy throwback to the 'Fifties. He's rebellious enough to make Lulu's little escapades look tame by comparison, he's dressed and coiffed like a 'Fifties greaser and he's got the big phallic-symbol of a car to match. Swoon...!

Ray doesn't like Charlie one bit. Charlie likes Ray at first, but then he discovers that the guy is, like, deranged or something. Psychotic, anyway. Ray has a criminal past, a criminal mind and a criminal future, if his actions while he's with Charlie and Lulu are anything to go by.

Ray's torch is still burning brightly for Lulu, whom he thinks is his soulmate, but Lulu is starting to develop feelings for the staid but honest (well, honest-ish, let's not forget those unpaid checks!) Charlie. This is one three-way that isn't gonna work out. Something's gotta give.

And meanwhile, doesn't Charlie Driggs have a wife and two kids back at home? What about them, and what about the new job he's meant to be starting as Vice-President of his company on Monday morning? What about his life, the one he had before he met Lulu, who has more aliases than Homer Simpson's environmental activist mother Mona? Muddy Mae Suggins, indeed.

Is everything going to be flushed down the toilet just because he's met a free spirit called Lulu (if that IS her real name, lol!) who has sex with strange men just because she likes the look of them? This situation is gonna take some straightening out. As Ned Flanders himself would say, it's a dilly of a pickle. Will Charlie Driggs come out the other end in one piece?

SOMETHING WILD is out now on Blu-Ray, complete with a couple of nice extra features, from THE CRITERION COLLECTION. It's a terrific slice of 'Eighties nostalgia-slash-cult-road-movie with a killer soundtrack, and Ray Liotta is smoulderingly handsome in it. 

Oh, and that reminds me. Ray, I'm afraid George Michael called. You know the steel-capped boots with the pointy toes that he wore in the video for YA GOTTA HAVE FAITH and let you borrow? Time's up, Ray. He wants 'em back...


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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