Forgotten Film Friday: The Wild Life – 1984 Written by Cameron Crowe

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by: Lizzy Ferro

Annnnnnnnd we’re back with another Forgotten Film gem! This week: The Wild Life

So, I’m a pretty big Cameron Crowe fan – Lloyd Dobbler was my first love and what I compared every boy in high school to and Almost Famous has my heart in a way I couldn’t even begin to explain, I watch it once every few months because I can’t not. I often find myself in conversations with my fiancé about what his record collection might be like or what it would be like to call Cameron Crowe your friend – I am a fan, in short. 

But imagine my surprise last winter when my fiancé & I discovered there was a Cameron Crowe written film neither of us had ever seen – how? Had I just been ignoring that one line on his IMDB? Well, either way, we made it our mission to find The Wild Life.  

The first thing you need to know about this film is that the tagline is: “it’s Casual” – so, you know you’re in for a good time. It is the definition of an 80’s teen movie and it’s glorious! Starring Lea Thompson, Chris Penn, Ilan Mitchell-Smith, Eric Stoltz (because it wouldn’t be an 80’s movie without him) & Rick Moranis – Oh! And Randy Quaid playing a Vietnam Vet! So, are you sold yet? No. 

The Wild Life is pure fun. Plain and simple. Hitting almost every teen movie trope, from massively destructive house parties to the nice girl having an affair with an older man. In the interest of not giving the film away, here is the super vague Wikipedia summary:

The plot revolves around the characters of three teenagers living in the suburbs of Los Angeles. Bill (Eric Stoltz), has just graduated from high school and got his first apartment. His younger brother Jim (Ilan Mitchell-Smith), spends a lot of time practicing with his Nunchakus, getting high, listening to heavy metal on his boombox, and hanging out with Vietnam vet Charlie (Randy Quaid). Other important characters include Tom (Christopher Penn), a hedonistic high-school wrestling champ who works with Bill at a bowling alley, a trendy department store manager named Harry (Rick Moranis), Anita (Lea Thompson) who works at a donut shop, and her friend Eileen (Jenny Wright) who works at the department store with Harry. Anita has a fling with a cop named David (Hart Bochner) who, unknown to Anita, is married. The three boys set out for a night of fun and craziness at a strip bar and later on have a party at Bill’s apartment. 

Oh, and did I mention the music is done, in part, by a one Mr. Edward Van Halen? Because it totally is.

This film was such a pleasant surprise and it’s so nice to have another option when I’m in the mood for an awesomely 80’s movie. Cinematic Masterpiece? No. But it’s a delightfully entertaining teen movie that keeps it casual. Plus who can say no to Cameron Crowe?

*There doesn’t seem to be an official DVD release of this film, but you can get the Amazon DVD-R version.




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