13 Oct 2014

MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRL - Something Wild (1986)

Film genres have formulas and rules, but how well do films follow those formulas?  What about the Manic Pixie Dream Girl character, does she have rules?

Something Wild (1986) - is a film where a girl who doesn't fit societal norms changes a conservative guy's life.  But is she a MPDG or not?

The Following may contain SPOILERS for Something Wild (1986)

The trailer.


1a.  POV Character - Charles Driggs, most of the film follows him with moments of just her.
The Bechdel Test:  Lulu talks to her mother (Peaches), mostly about Charlie, the only time she doesn't is when she lies about forgetting her suitcase (and immediately mentions Charlie not having any clothes.)  When signing in at her reunion she talks about having children (Charlie has to give he names to say).    Fail or very weak pass.
The Mako Mori Test:  Although she changes his life, her life goes through as big (or bigger changes) going from being wild and having a violent criminal as an husband on parole she's trying to get away from to being a widower.  Pass.

1b.  Unhappy – She identifies him as a closet rebel.
i.  Job - Being paged, doesn't seem happy about it.  Just got a promotion to Vice President.
ii.  Relationship – Wears ring, carries pictures of kids but they left him 6 months earlier.
iii.  Belongings – Not an issue, but he is selling his house.
iv.  Bereavement – No bereavenment.
v.  Life – Seems unhappy.
vi.  The entire film pretty much happens over a couple of days, but most of his problems with his life stem from long before that.

RULE #2 - T &A

Sex a couple of times in the first third of the film, with nudity from both Melanie Griffith and Jeff Daniels.  Certainly beyond simple Rom Com nudity into light Slash film nudity.


The middle of the film seems to come from a Rom Com, but the beginning less so (but still a little) and the end far more violet than a Rom Com (most don't include killing her ex).  But let's throw the Rom Com Rules at it:

1.  Mostly focused on him, He's repressed, she's wild.  She has an ex, Ray, who causes problems, his is entirely out of the picture.  Brief meeting of friends.  Mostly Followed.
2.  See #2 above, more nudity than a Rom Com.  Not Followed.
3.  She catches him running out without paying for a meal.  Possibly cute.  Vaguely Followed.
4.  Only circumstances that keep them apart is her being taken by her ex.  Vaguely followed.
5.  Exists.   Mostly Followed.
6.  The only real break-up is her leaving him at a railway crossing... for less than a minute.   Momentarily Followed.
7.  Separated forever applies to when she is taken by Ray and when the police take her away.  Followed.
8.  No real need for redemption.  Not applicable.
9.  See #10 below.  Followed.
10. See #10 below, no sequel.  Followed.


4a.  Full of energy - Certainly.

4b.  Full of contradictions - A rebel who wants to settle down.
i.  Fun/Serious - Her fun is criminal and dangerous.
ii.  Sexual/Asexual - She kisses him and gets them a hotel room.  Not really asexual at all.
iii.  Romantic/Not - Pretends not to (deliberately gets involved with a married man but wants romance.)
iv.  Honest & Open/Hiding a Secret - Very sharing of info, doesn't mention violent criminal ex.
v.  Smart/ditzy - Has a ditzy voice, made some poor decisions in her past.  Neither smart or ditzy.

4c.  Carefree - Liar.  Petty criminal.  Sexually free.  Picks up large numbers of hitchhikers.

4d.  Quirky - Pretty much.

4e.  Unusual Things
i.  Clothing – Big clunky Jewellery.  More light gothy or post-punky black clothing.  Cute dresses when visiting her mother.  Casual clothes later.
ii.  Transport - A couple of convertibles.  At the end of the film has a Woody.
iii.  House – Just an apartment.
iv.  Job – No sign of having a job.
v.  Objects – Robot tape player, carries primitive idol, a maraca and handcuffs around with her.
vi.  Mix-Tape - Reggae, Wild Thing.


Too dark to be a pixie at first, too straight later.

5a.  Tiny - Yes.

5b.  Cute features - Yes, short hair.

5c.  Girlish - Soft husky but high pitched voice.

5d.  Clothing - Kind of with the jewellery, more so (but more conservative) when playing it straight and finally normal casual clothes.



6a.  Dream Girl - In the beginning, no.  More a self-destructive influence.  Suddenly turns into one in the middle.

6b.  Dream-like - In the beginning events would have been dream-like for Charlie.


7a.  Female - Yes.

7b.  Girlish - Partially.


She offers him a lift, makes him take the day off.  Drags him to her mother's and then her reunion.  Certainly forces herself into his life, but he chooses to change.  She does have a story of her own which is stronger.


Secretly committing crimes at first.  Past life with a violent, criminal boyfriend.  Secret plan to go to High School reunion.


They drive off together.  There is no sequel.


Rules followed by this film:  4, 7, 9, 10.
Rules partially followed by this film: 1, 3, 5, 6, 8.
Rules not followed by this film:  2. 

To much sex and violence and a girl who is not quite a pixie and has her own story makes this only superficially .

~ DUG.

Remember to vote here to help choose the fifth set of rules to be tested.
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Schedule for upcoming films for this blog. 


  1. What is the significance with the writings on the wall of Lulus apartment?

  2. "Speculators Out"? Either a comment on yuppies (which Charles was) or connected the the comment that the new tenant thought the landlord was screwing her or random graffiti from the location.