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This is one of those surreal experiences that make you wonder whether or not
you laughed at what you saw or what you THOUGHT you had seen. Of course,
being concocted by Joel and Ethan Coen makes it even more
As "repeat offender" H. I. McDonnough, Nicolas Cage creates yet another strange, offbeat character that gets under your skin for days after. After returning to the same prison time after time under the eye of Officer Ed (Holly Hunter), he goes straight and they get married, planning to have a big family. It is only then, he finds that Ed is a "barren, rocky place".
So, what's a couple to do?
This is where the "Arizona" of the title comes in, when they steal one of the quintuplets of the Arizona family. Naturally, the father (Wilson) goes all out to find the culprits, even enlisting the aid of a "tracker" (Cobb), who is kind of an existential bounty hunter with a good nose.
From this deceptively simple story line, the Coens create a dreamscape that is mesmerizing, serpentine, loaded with all matter of visual input, deft one-liners and characters that are so off-the-wall that it's hard to forget them and the situations they get into.
Coen Brother stalwart John Goodman plays yet another flaky loon - this time an escaped con - who, along with his little brother (Forsythe) complain that the prison "had no more to offer them".
Of course, the chases, fight scenes and getaway scenes are elaborate, well-choreographed and exciting, as well as funny. How could they not be? This whole movie is one huge snowball rolling down the side of a mountain, growing larger and rolling faster as it reaches the end of its trip.
But to try and explain this movie is an exercise in futility; you'd be better off explaining Kierkegaard to a room full of second-graders. You just have to see it yourself. If your sense of humor is a bit on the dry side and you love fancy camera work and Fellini-esque characters, it's your kind of movie.
Ten stars and a complimentary pack of Huggies for "Raising Arizona", the best Dadaist head trip film with kidnapped babies, exploding bunnies and Frances McDormand in the desert you'll ever find...that has a fight in a trailer.
I always say that my favourite Coen brothers movie is the last one I watched. A slight exaggeration, but as they have had very few real misses in their career it's easy to forget just how great most of their movies are. For me 'Raising Arizona' ties with 'The Big Lebowski' as their single most entertaining movie, and Arizona is arguably the funnier of the two if you are looking at sheer belly laughs. This movie is the Coen's most cartoonish and shows that they learned a lot from their involvement in Sam Raimi's 'The Evil Dead' and 'Crimewave'. The movie is full of fun, clever touches and infectious energy. It just never lets up. Calling a movie "a roller coaster ride" is a cliche, but it's a perfect description for this. The opening pre-credit sequence has more packed into it than most movies do in their complete running time! Nicholas Cage has recently got sidetracked making dumb action movies but back in the 80s and early 90s he was one of the most interesting and adventurous leading men in Hollywood, making unusual movies like 'Birdy', this, 'Vampire's Kiss' and 'Wild At Heart'. 'Adaptation' is a step back in the right direction for him. I hope he continues in this vein instead of say, 'Con Air 2'. Cage is just terrific as H.I. and I haven't enjoyed Holly Hunter as much in any other movie. Together they make one of the best on screen couples in many a moon. The supporting cast are all fantastic, especially John Goodman and William Forsythe as H.I.'s prison buddies. The psycho biker played by "Tex" Cobb is a also a brilliant touch. There are so many memorable bits in 'Raising Arizona' I could be here all day pointing them out. Just see for yourself. There were lots of lousy movies made in the 1980s, the Spielberg/Lucas/Simpson/Bruckheimer/John Hughes decade that dumbed down mainstream movies forever, but there were also thankfully some wonderfully inspired ones like this, 'Blue Velvet', 'Brazil', 'RoboCop', 'Repo Man', 'Eating Raoul', 'Beetlejuice', and 'The King Of Comedy'.
There are really few directors that are as consistent as the Coen brothers. Their strange sense of humour just works in every movie they make, and it's extremely fun and addictive. With that said, it's difficult to decide which of their movies is the best, but this one is a worthy contender. It's incredibly outrageous, wild and crazy, but at the same time it's close and heart-warming. It has a very surreal look, yet the emotional scenes still look very genuine, which is quite an achievement. The characters are also vintage Coen, they're all offbeat and weird, but that just raises more sympathy for them. It also helps that they all express themselves through some razor-sharp dialogues. I could barely make out the lines because I was too busy laughing at the previous lines, you wonder where these keep coming from. This movie just isn't like anything I've ever seen. It's astoundingly funny in all its weirdness.
A lot of things come together to make this film highly enjoyable;
acting, writing, music, pace, directing... It's over-the-top fun. It
took me several viewings before it sunk in that the film's base story
is about child kidnapping; which is an extraordinarily serious crime.
But this film makes you enjoy every minute so it's easy to forget the
seriousness of the base story.
While I'm not a fan of Nicholas Cage, I thought this was a perfect vehicle for him. Holly Hunter is always excellent, IMHO. Their attention to detail in crafting their characters was on point and thorough.
"Well alright then." :)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For all the visual flair and deft performances on display in their
films, the Coens' greatest virtue lies in writing
In terms of cheerful
stories, witty dialog and the creation of a coherent, plausible fantasy
world peopled by vivid characters, their ability to work original and
entertaining variations on a genre indicates well for the future
Opening with a brilliant pre-credits monologue, "Raising Arizona" tells of an incompetent, compulsive petty criminal's love for his prison warder: married but infertile, the couple kidnap a baby, whose tycoon father hires a crazed biker to find and kill the culprits A surreal, slapstick satire, it takes intense pleasure in exciting plotting, showy and cheap colors, and hilarious screwball characters
The Coen Brothers first "masterpiece" black comedy was a 1987 surprise hit that raised the bar in the comedy genre. Future Academy Award winners Cage and Hunter star in what may be one of the most original stories ever to come out of Arizona. Goodman shows the world he can be funny as the misunderstood and somewhat crazy escaped convict. Cage and Hunter have so much love to give, they steal a baby from Mr. Arizona himself. A modern day (80's) fantasy that chooses an interesting setting to tell its tale. The hilarious innocence is non-stop as Raising Arizona showcases relationship, friendship, vanity, ignorance, and the search for peace and forgiveness. Who knows....maybe it was Utah?
Parentless recidivist H.I. regards prison as his home. No matter it is
a partiality or a revenge in his own words, he robs convenience stores;
he goes to jail; he talks nice to a parole board; the cycle repeats
itself. And finally falls in love with a policewoman, ED. Life goes
easy on them at first. They bask on the folding chairs, dreaming to
have a youth to share their thoughts and feelings.Then the story
abruptly turns sad. ED.is barren. what should they do?
Tempe is a rock place that bears women deprived of the happiness at conceiving babies.Their wombs are barren and hard like the rocks in the desert. Florence,Dot and ED are the victims of the metaphor.One takes fertility pills,another adopts orphans,the other after being turn down adoption,steals a baby named Nathan Jr.
Nothing could be more exciting than a rebirth. The film tells us what a rebirth is like. Push hard through the saturated mud above your head at the 99% risk of being stifled to death. One second delay would be too late. That's Gale and Evelle's narrow escape from the jail. It sounds surrealist. But that's Coens's wit lies. They twist reality and exaggeration into knots to spin our noggins.Snatching a packet of diapers in a convenience store can be a life-or-death chase scene, without mentioning the leather-clad,bonehead,bounty hunter Biker, who can browbeat nothing except little animals.
Troubles arrive in sequence. That's the way the life is. At the end of the film, H.I. and ED returns the Nathan Jr.to his parents.It doesn't belong to them and will never be theirs.Why not keep the dream of having kids go on? If H.I.'s dream of the hellion Biker is not a phantasm, his dream of being blessed with descendants might come true some day.
In despite of the superficially hilarious scenarios, it is a sad story to the marrow. H.I. and ED's sorrow is not skin-deep and can be felt by any of us who puts heart into this film.
This amusing picture concerns about an ex-convict (Nicolas Cage) who
falls in love for a policewoman (Holly Hunter) who takes him a picture
each time he goes to prison . Both of whom wish sons but cannot have
any . Then they decide to abduct one from a couple with five children .
Meanwhile , a pair of ex convicts (John Goodman and William Forshyte)
meddle themselves in their marriage life . Besides , a bounty hunter
(Randall Tex Cobb) called the ¨lone biker of apocalypse¨ sets off in
pursuit the protagonists for obtaining the reward offered by the
child's dad .
The film blends irony , humor , tongue-in-cheek , chase scenes , slapstick and is very amusing and entertaining . It's a splendid comedy with set pieces cartoon where the action and humor is continuous from the presentation until the ending . The film was influenced by the works of Preston Sturges and writers such as William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor , known for her southern literature . Enthusiastic performances by the two main stars , Nicolas Cage is perfectly casted , though his relationship with the Coen Brothers wasn't respectful , but turbulent . When he arrived on-set, and at various other points during production , Cage offered suggestions to the Coen brothers, which they ignored . And Holly Hunter is sympathetic , giving an attractive acting . The movie that was shot in 10 weeks has its moments here and there and being pretty enjoyable and bemusing . Many crew members who had worked with the Coen Brothers on Blood simple (1984) returned for this film , including cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld , co-producer Mark Silverman , production designer Jane Musky , associate producer and assistant director Deborah Reinisch , and film composer Carter Burwell . Breathtaking cinematography by Barry Sonnenfeld who makes a great camera work , after becoming a famous director with many smash hits (Men in black) . Excellent musical score by Carter Burwell (Rob Roy) , he's habitual musician of Cohen brothers films . Rating : High recommendation. Above average . Well worth watching.
"Raising Arizona" is one of what I consider to be the five instantly
classic films by the team of Ethan and Joel Coen, the others being
"Blood Simple", "Fargo", "Oh Brother Where Are Thou", and "The Big
But "Raising Arizona" is my personal favorite, and probably the most quotable films I have ever seen, with some of the best dialogue ever written for film.
The story in brief: H.I. (Nicholas Cage) and "Ed" (Holly Hunter, in one of my favorite roles of hers) portray, respectively, an ex-con and a cop who meet when he keeps getting arrested for robbing convenience stores. They fall in love, get married, decide that "there is just too much love" between them, and they need a "critter to share it with". Upon finding that "Edwina's insides were a rocky place" where H.I.'s "seed could find no purchase", they try to adopt, but are turned down because of H.I.'s record. Then they read in the newspaper about local unpainted furniture storeowner Nathan Arizona (Trey Wilson), owner of "Unpainted Arizona", and his wife having quintuplets as a result of fertility pills, and who joke that "They got more than they can handle". The couple hatch a plan to take one of the babies and raise it as their own.
What results is an ongoing, fast-paced, hilarious set of misadventures, complicated by the appearance of a ruthless, heartless outlaw named Leonard Smalls (Randall "Tex" Cobb) Nathan Arizona hires to find the missing baby, and two felon friends from H.I.'s past (John Goodman and William Forsythe), who make a childbirth-like escape from prison. Sam McMurray (the smarmy dad in "Drop Dead Gorgeous") is H.I.'s....smarmy boss, Glen. Frances McDormand (real-life spouse of Joel Coen, and star of other Coen films such as "Blood Simple" and "Fargo") is his excitable wife Dot. M. Emmet Walsh ("Blood Simple") has a scenery-chewing cameo role as H.I.'s talkative co-worker.
When Ed finally opens up her 5'2" can of Southern-fried whup-ass, throwing her badge to the dirt, striding towards Leonard Smalls as she bellows with all her might, "Gimme back that baby, you warthog from HELL!!!" I always fling my arms up and shout "You go girl! Kick his ass!"
And the way Hunter cries is hilarious.
Holly Hunter was great in this role, as one would expect. She's a very talented actress, in both serious and comedic roles.
Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter made a great on screen couple, Cage with his hair standing out in every direction, looking like a hapless, browbeaten puppy half of the time, and Hunter as his diminutive firecracker of a wife who loves him and tries to keep him honest (oh yeah except for that little kidnapping excursion).
I could go on and on about this film but suffice to say that so far I haven't met anyone who didn't find "Raising Arizona" hilarious. And as any great Coen brothers film, it has a certain mythic quality that's hard to describe, but is present all of of the brothers' best efforts. When I was single, I often used Coen brothers films as a barometer of sorts for prospective boyfriends. For instance, I remember seeing "Fargo" on a first date, and when we came out of the theater, the guy (whose name I have since forgotten anyway) remarked "Huh, I didn't think much of that", while I was thinking how blown away I was by the film! I immediately thought to myself "So much for him! This relationship won't last long."
For more great Coen comedy, check out "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" (2000), which is loosely based on Homer's epic poem "The Odyssey". Another great Coen comedy is "The Big Lebowski" (1998), which also includes my favorite singer/songwriter Aimee Mann in a brief cameo, and boasts a cult following that has resulted in an annual "Lebowskifest" for fans of the film.
"Blood Simple" (1984) is probably my favorite film noir modern-day classic tale of lust and betrayal, and is my personal second-favorite Coen brothers film. "Fargo" (1996), which won the Screen writing Oscar, and an Oscar for Frances McDormand, is another must-see Coen classic.
Pure lunacy is what Raising Arizona is. It's got everything you could ask for in a film; kidnapping, jailbreaks, Hell's Angels, explosions and guns, guns guns. Nic Cage is great in the role of a very befuddled conveniance store robber who falls in love with Holly Hunter's Ed. Throw in John Goodman and William Forsythe as a couple of car stealing, bank robbing brothers and you got yourself scenes that will make you giggle when you think back about them. The entire state of Arizona seems trigger happy in the Coen's eyes. Clerks, cops, and crooks pull out firearms and let loose like the finale of the 1812 Overture. Plus, where else can you hear really good yodeling?
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