Grant Mitchell

Homecoming. It’s the time of year when the leaves change and everyone comes together and reminisces about the summer while also appreciating all the fall has brought as it comes to a close. For UT, it has been quite a wild ride.

This is a column that’s about movies from all eras and genres and explains their significance, reviews them or does some combination of those two things.

With choosing a film I can talk about that relates to Homecoming, I have had some difficulty. Difficulty not because I can’t think of one, rather because I am a senior in my last semester of my undergraduate degree coming to terms with the fact that the end of this ride is approaching.

I want to say first and foremost that my experience at UTK has been amazing. There have been highs and lows, but each lesson has brought me a greater understanding of myself and what I want out of life.

In 1986’s “Something Wild,” starring Melanie Griffith and Jeff Daniels, they embark on a journey of self-discovery and exploration that leads them to a similar place I and many other seniors now currently reside.

The film begins with Griffith and Daniels, two virtual strangers, deciding to embark on a road trip together. Leading them back to the more wild, free-spirited, Griffith’s hometown, she — Griffith — introduces Daniels, a mostly straight-laced businessman, to her mother as her new husband. Similarly, Daniels is also brought by Griffith to her high school reunion where the charade continues.

This adventure, sweet and entertaining as it is, has one hitch. Griffith’s controlling and abusive ex-husband, played by Ray Liotta, is also back in town and is looking to get Griffith back.

While looming over the film and the lives of Griffith and Daniel’s characters, Liotta is a forceful and frightening wrecking ball of a man that threatens to jeopardize the budding relationship Griffith and Daniels are beginning to form.

While still a troubling presence until the end of the film, Griffith and Daniels ultimately find themselves rid of Liotta’s brutish and dangerous character. Leaving Daniels and Griffith’s characters the opportunity to start again in the process of getting to know one another, this time more straightforward and conventionally.

I chose “Something Wild” for this article because it seems like the perfect metaphor for college and life.

We are all on a journey down a road not before traveled, trying to find the narrative to our own stories and paths we are meant to go down — some of them are the right way and some of them, the wrong.

While traveling down those paths, we eventually find our way to where we’re supposed to be, more or less. Maybe this relates more to the early part of life I, and my fellow college students, reside in, but we never really stop learning more about who we are and where we’re supposed to be going regardless of our stage in life.

Usually, I am more direct and provide greater examples in my reviews of films, but for “Something Wild,” I left things overall intentionally vague because it is a viewing experience I think everyone should have. After all, it’s a story that has similar components to the ones in our own lives. Sure, “Something Wild” has crazier happenings than anything I have lived through, but the message resonates through the art regardless of the relatability of some of the situations characters face in the film.

I wanted to give you one of my standard articles for this one — something where I broke down homecoming depictions in film and how they relate to the real thing, but I would have done a disservice to myself. A disservice because this is perhaps one of the last times I get to write to you with The Daily Beacon as I am graduating. With this being possibly one of my last articles, I wanted to let you know I have loved being at UTK and, more than anything, I appreciate anyone who has ever read my articles or kept up with what I’ve written. It means more to me than words could ever describe.

Homecoming is an opportunity to walk on sidewalks littered with burnt orange and brown leaves, throw a football, grill out and wear plenty of orange. It’s a special time of year, where the year is close to finished but everything still feels young and full of possibility.

Grant T. Mitchell is a senior at UT this year majoring in public relations. He can be reached at gmitch16@vols.utk.edu.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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