Raising Arizona (1987)
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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.
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." :)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
These guys should have won an Oscar twenty years sooner.
10 out of 10, kids.
In and out of prison for armed robbery a number of times over a period of some years, repeat offender "Hi" McDunnough begins to gradually fall for police photographer "Ed". After Hi vows to reform, they marry and decide to have children. Upon discovering the infertility of Ed, they opt to steal one of five babies born to local furniture salesman Nathan Arizona.
Any film which numbers Nicolas Cage among its cast is a big risk for me. The man is one of those actors whose presence almost always signifies a terrible film to come. The combination of this bearing the Coen stamp and being the first Cage film I'd seen since Adaptation—in which he is, dare I say it, bearable—assuaged my fears and allowed me to sit back with hope intact. The film's opening is rapid in pace, though not too much of a fault: it's a little distracting, and feels a tad rushed, but it's no serious problem. The humour—for this is a comedy, in case you're unaware—starts relatively strong, an extended scene in which Hi attempts to control the quintuplets whilst choosing which to steal particularly humorous. Had the credits rolled immediately thereafter, I would've been happy. But they don't, alas. What follows is just over an hour of completely misguided humour, bare caricatures, and that most hated of "comedy" clichés: the parody of deep-South life. To call it an uncomfortable viewing experience would be an understatement, my eyes trained on the DVD player "time elapsed" display as my fingers drummed on the chair, waiting for it all to end. Other than in the first half hour, I genuinely don't think as much as a brief chuckle escaped my mouth. The characters are irritating, underdeveloped, uninteresting, and uninvolving (the bounty hunter biker caused me no end of sighs and wails of despair). I now remember, if you'll permit me something of a tangential thought, that I did in fact laugh twice: once each for Frances McDormand and John Goodman, both of whom are amongst the painfully few good things the film has to offer. Though that said, the scene wherein Goodman emerges from mud vexed me with its silly shouting. As if I wasn't disappointed and disgusted enough with the film as a whole, to return to things, the ending is utterly revolting garbage which attempts, in a most upsetting way, to sanitise what has gone before with paint-by-numbers sentiment. Simply infuriating.
Raising Arizona, you may have noticed, was not quite for me. Almost entirely devoid of humour, characters, or any shred of likability, it is a welcome edition to the Nic Cage canon. I think it possible that I'd have hated this less were it not a Coen Brothers film—not, that is to say, that I'm the kind of person who decided that the brothers were the saviours of American cinema after seeing No Country for Old Men—simply that all I'd seen by them prior to this had been at least quite quite good. In summary, do try to avoid this.
The story centers around a convict/loser named H.I. McDunnough, (Nicholas Cage). His friends called him Hi. For the last several years, Hi has been robbing convenience stores and ending up in the slammer. After three times, Hi decides to go straight. He seeks the attraction of a pretty cop named Edwina "Ed" McDunnough, (Holly Hunter). Soon after, Hi and Ed get married. But, there's just one problem. They want to raise a family. So, the couple decides to keep trying. But according to a local gynecologist, Ed is infertile, meaning that she can't have kids. According to Hi's perspective, he can't "plant his seed" into Ed. Hopeless, the couple decides to steal one of the Arizona quints. One night, Hi and Ed steal one of the quints from a very wealthy businessman, (Sam McMurray), who owns a furniture store in Arizona.
As the movie progresses, the humor starts to kick in when the local police and the F.B.I. conduct a manhunt on the missing quint. Meanwhile, two prisoners, (John Goodman and William Forsythe), escaped from prison and take shelter in Hi's home. But, the two prisoners want Hi to go along with them to pull off a heist. While that is going, another character comes walking into the story. An deranged and hellish lone motorcycle driver, (Randall 'Tex' Cobb), enters the story through Hi's dreams and his job is to find the quint and find the people who stole him.
You can see that the movie is quite ambitious for its own kind. To tell you the truth, it is. This is the first comedy being made by the always entertaining movie-making duo, Joel and Ethan Coen. Their movies never ceased to amaze me. They have really carved out a reputation of movie- making with their witty scripts and their zany approach to a story. What surprises me is that this movie is actually their first comedy. Before the Coen brothers made Raising Arizona, they wrote and direct a very dark and violent neo-noir film, Blood Simple, which was released three earlier. This is quite surprising because Blood Simple was a very serious and sometimes bloody film that had a lot of twists and turns in it.
Here, it's a change of pace. How they were to pull this one off is something that strikes me dumb. Watching the movie, I found myself laughing more than ever since I now understand the themes involved. One of the funniest scenes that I saw and it is the most significant one is when Cage's character robs a convenience store and disguised himself by putting pantyhose on his head. This plan doesn't since his wife leaves him behind, having him deal with the trigger-happy clerk and the police. The chase goes all over the place with Cage being chased by the clerk, the police and a pack of dogs. Even in the middle of the chase, Cage is even given a lift with an screaming hayseed driver. The way the chase sequence is shot makes it seems that the chase is being played as a cartoon. Maybe that's why the scene made me laugh the first time around. It's that sense of wacko humor that generates a laugh out of the audience. Not only the film's humor made me laugh, but toward the end of the movie, there's a bittersweet sense that ties the movie together with the characters trying hard to have a family.
The writing by the brothers is very funny and even the performances by Cage, Hunter, Goodman and even Forsthye are excellent. I did believe that Nicholas Cage was really Hi. The fact that he sports a mustache and a dopey appearance when he is getting his mugshot done is very funny and also interesting.
I'm not really a big fan of comedies because most of them are done pretty badly and never seem to hit me with their humor. That is true in today's movies. In today's movies, you can get away with everything. You can get a kick out of a audience that admired slapstick humor or bathroom humor. I understand that perspective. But, I enjoyed watching comedies that have funny dialogue in it. i believe that if you can make an audience laugh out loud with the dialogue, then that can be funny alone. The Coen brothers know how to generate a laugh out of the audience with their style of writing.
Even in the today world, the Coen brothers are still going strong. Last year, they written and directed the Oscar-nominated picture, Inside Llewyn Davis. The brothers seem to really be shifting gears according to the genres. They can frightened you and tantalizes you with Blood Simple. They can make you laugh with Raising Arizona. They can compel you with Miller's Crossing. And they can jolt you with The Big Lebowski. I wonder what they're going to do next. ★★★ 1/2 3 1/2 stars.
The wacky characters and outrageous story, of course, are the attractions here but I also enjoyed the low camera angles employed here by the directors, the Coen brothers, and I've always enjoyed Nicholas Cage's strange dialog in the narration.
Everyone in this film - everyone but the little babies - are totally insane, beginning with the lead people, the husband-and-wife team played by Cage and Holly Hunter. I got most of my laughs, however, from the supporting cast of John Goodman and Bill Forysthe as escaped convicts, Trey Wilson as the father of the quints and Randall "Tex" Cobb as "Leonard Smalls." For a pro boxer, Cobb turned out to be a pretty good actor.
If you're looking for something different, something really far out and funny, look no further.
But of course, complications ensue. You see, our two brother-convicts have escaped, and who do they seek out? None other than their prison buddy Hi. Needless to say, Ed is not thrilled with this turn of events. Meanwhile, Hi has lost his job due to beating up his boss (after said boss, while at their house for a barbecue, tells him that he and his wife are "swingers" and wants to know if Hi would ever consider "wife-swappin".) Hi cannot bring himself to tell Ed that he lost his job for "defending her honor", and this causes tension between the two. So much so that, although he has turned down a chance to join in a bank heist with the escaped-con brothers, he decides to rob a convenience store he goes into with the intention of getting diapers for the nipper (which he does, just before he pulls an unloaded gun on the clerk and orders him to empty the till). Seeing what he is doing, Ed decides to leave him there, driving off and taking the baby with her. Meanwhile, it turns out the teenage, braces-wearing clerk has a (loaded) gun of his own, and has no qualms about using it. There follows a chase scene that must be seen to be believed. The words "fall on the floor funny" come to mind. Ed finally shows up, picks up Hi, and they retrieve the diapers, which had been abandoned on the road somewhere along the way.
The Arizonas, in the meantime, have troubles of their own besides a missing baby. You see, a bounty hunter (Randall "Tex" Cobb) has shown up and promised to find the child. But he is not satisfied with what they have officially offered as a reward and threatens to sell the baby on the black market if they do not agree to his price.
Poor Hi, meanwhile, has to deal with his outraged boss (the "swinger") who shows up at his trailer again to officially fire him. But that's not all, folks - he has figured out the baby's true identity for himself, and wants the baby for himself and his wife (who seems to have a baby obsession; she wants another as soon as the youngest one they have is "too big to cuddle"). But the brother-cons overhear this and decide to kidnap the baby for the reward. Hi, of course, refuses to let Nathan Junior (he thinks) go without a fight, but he loses. The brother-cons take the baby and attempt their bank heist. But they decide to take the baby into the bank with them and then forget to put him back in the the car as they make their escape. Upon discovering they have forgotten him, they scream - and then scream some more when a cannister of blue paint that was put in their bag along with the money from the bank explodes.
It all leads up to a final confrontation between the bounty hunter, Hi, and Ed. I won't give anything else away, just say that this is one of the funniest, most original films I have ever seen. Cheers.
I guess I didn't like the movie too much, but probably only for the script, which is in my opinion one of the weakest of the Coen's. The characters are so broad and outlandish that it takes away from the emotional value able to see in them so we are witnessing more behavior than character. I did laugh at certain sections, but there were several scenes that felt from another movie. I guess I can't be too upset seeing as how I have seen many other Coen brother films I love, but it came as a bit of a surprise to me that this disappointed me. Then again, the Coens have always been a very acquired taste. This one is very, very.
I was very disappointed in this movie was mildly entertaining , but barely ..two louts screaming as loudly , did not strike me as funny , not funny ...
Makes me wonder about what people thought was even good , not to mention "great" about this bomb.
Makes me hesitate to see the other Coen movies,.. Might see Big Labowski and Brother where art thou.
But of course not every one likes the same movies but often when one reads many good things about a movie one hopes the movie will please you also.
This one did not .