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Recidivist hold-up man H.I. McDonnough and police woman Edwina marry, only to discover they are unable to conceive a child. Desperate for a baby, the pair decide to kidnap one of the quintuplets of furniture tycoon Nathan Arizona. The McDonnoughs try to keep their crime secret, while friends, co-workers and a feral bounty hunter look to use Nathan Jr. for their own purposes. Written by
Scott Renshaw <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The suniest and most uplifting comedy I've ever seen. ***1/2 out of ****
RAISING ARIZONA (1987) ***1/2
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Holly Hunter, John Goodman, William Forsythe, and Frances McDormand Director: Joel Coen Written by Ethan Coen & Joel Coen Rated PG-13 (for violence and language)
By Blake French:
"Raising Arizona" is one of the best, most sunny and uplifting comedies I have ever seen. It is inspirational and detailed, from start to finish. The movie is written and directed by the creators of "Fargo," Ethan and Joel Coen, who not surprisingly have placed together a movie masterpiece featuring some really big laughs while still getting the powerful moral of the story across.
The film stars Nicolas Cage as a criminal named H.I., who recently married a police officer named Ed (Holly Hunter), after meeting her in prison. The couple live in a lonely world with hope and dreams of having a kid, until they find out that Ed can't have babies--leaving them no chance at ever fulfilling their dreams of having a child of their own some day.
One afternoon, however, H.I. gets an idea: he will kidnap one of the babies of the furniture salesman Nathan Arizona, whose wife just had quintuplets. After all, why would they miss just one child when he has that many?
H.I. does this successfully and discretely. He and Ed are as happy as can be. Until some guilt begins to strike him when a $25,000 reward is offered for whomever finds and brings back this child, named Nathan Arizona who is named after his loving father. Soon, however, H.I.'s old jailhouse friends, Gale and Evelle, break out of prison and cause uproar for him. Then a helmet warring biker from hell shows up causing even more trouble. After that, there is an old neighbor enemy of his whom appears knowing his secret. Maybe the idea of raising Arizona wasn't such a good idea after all.
The screenplay features some of the funniest moments in film history. The scenes enjoy the insanity of becoming a live action cartoon and a series of melodramatic happenings. One sequence, in particular, when HI robs a convenient story for Huggie's dippers for Nathan Jr., the filmmakers take advantage of the comedic situations involved with the circumstances here. It includes slapstick humor mixed with high energy and risky stakes as Cage is chased by gun happy policemen, store clerks, one, two and then a dozen vicious dogs, his wife, and his morals in a exiting and hilarious adventure worth the watch all on its own. There are also several other funny moments in the movie.
The performances are also to die for. Nicolas Cage, known for a little heftier of roles, is full of shimmer here. Such a robust flavor explodes from his juicy character. Holly Hunter is also bursting with comic parody. Her character is perfectly portrayed with the right amount of hostility and human understanding. John Goodman and William Forsythe are hilarious as the two prison escapees. Their exaggerated characters fit the film's comic tone flawlessly. Frances McDormand, who was so good in the 1996 satire "Fargo," here is a little underplayed. Yes, her performance fits her character's attitude and witty remarks, but in general, I think her role was too shallow considering her ability.
The ending of "Raising Arizona" consists of a daydream sequence from the mind of HI, a character so hopeless and free spirited the empathy felt for him matches any character in any chosen movie. The dream features a vision that takes place in the future where everything turns out to be okay for him and Ed. While I will not spoil what material it contains, I will say that it closes the movie with a heartwarming conclusion and yet lets the mind wonder on. "Raising Arizona," may only be a zany screwball comedy, but if you look deeper within its many laughs, you'll find something more. A message that will stick with you for some time after the movie is over: never give up hope. Brought to you by 20th Century Fox.
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