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Brilliant oddball comedy
Sandcooler4 July 2009
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.
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Okay, then...
Mister-66 September 2000
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 surreal.

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.

Trust me.

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.
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Hysterical, each time I see it
ddmcc24 April 2006
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." :)
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Absolutely brilliant! Possibly the Coens brothers funniest movie.
Infofreak15 August 2003
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'.
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Reminiscent of the humorous two-dimensional anarchy of Warner Bros. cartoons…
Nazi_Fighter_David11 December 2005
Warning: 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…
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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.
crisp_morning_20043 August 2006
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.
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A Coen Classic
caspian197831 July 2004
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?
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"They GOT more than they can handle!"
Billie30 August 2005
"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 Lebowski".

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.
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Perhaps the funniest film ever made
Coventry30 July 2003
The Coen Brothers are genius !! That's not an opinion, that's a fact. I can appreciate and respect all kind of different opinions on all sort of matters, but not on this one. If anyone says the Coen brothers are bad, overrated or not funny, they are just plain wrong. Raising Arizona is the funniest story I've ever seen. It can go over the top as much as it wants and still it doesn't become bad. That's a great achievement only the Coen Brothers can do. Jim Carrey can't do it and neither can Mike Myers. At the same time, this story is emotional and warming. How often do you see a combination like that. Joel and Ethan Coen often use the same actors and actresses. And they're right cause those who play in their films belong to Hollywoods very best. John Goodman, Holly Hunter...and in this film Nicolas Cage !! Nic plays one of his best roles so far. Perhaps even THE best. Holly Hunter is great as always and this role fits her perfectly. I believe it was also written especially for her. No need to say John Goodman and William Forsythe give away flawless performances as well. Try also to pay attention to the rather small part played by Frances McDormand. Raising Arizona is about a criminal falling in love with a police woman. They wanna celebrate their love with a baby but they are unable to have one themselves. Than the news breaks! A rich couple in the area received quintets. 5 healthy young babies. Hi and Ed (our couple) think it's unfair and they decide to steal one of them so they could raise their own little family. Now, the few lines I've wrote appear already in the intro of the movie. I can hear you think : with what else are the going to fill the movie. Well, go and see. If you haven't seen this film yet it's a real shame. It's a must see for everyone!!! Some scenes are so hilarious you'll have trouble breathing, I assure you. This film doesn't need stupid faces or teenager sex jokes to be funny.
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Cohen brothers comedy with great entertainment and fun
ma-cortes15 July 2005
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.
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The suniest and most uplifting comedy I've ever seen. ***1/2 out of ****
Movie-122 October 1999
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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pure lunacy
bat-514 October 1998
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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starbooty1120 February 2007
I really don't understand the appeal of this film. I truly like many of the Coen brothers films (Barton Fink, Fargo), but It just seems like everyone in the film is trying way to hard to be funny. I especially loathe the characters that are brothers (John Goodman) who escape from prison and the pointless subplot of the deranged hell's angel. Maybe It's just me. A lot of people I know say this is the funniest film they have EVER seen. I wanted to like it but with every character in the film screaming out lines with effected voices made me want to just shut it off. I will say that the technical work, like in most of their films is fantastic but this one just does not work for me.
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Genius on so many levels.
"Raising Arizona" is one of those rare American films that seems to capture the essence of what this country is all about. From first light, with that banjo strumming and breaking into the Arizona sunset and song, we are treated to the lush landscape of a bygone era: That of the 1980's American southwest. Trailer parks, barren desert plains, jutting red rocks, desolate highways and small town Tempe...it's a testament to the film-making ability of the mighty Coens. The cast is perfection; each worthy of a spot on Mount Rushmore and a hand print on Hollywood Blvd. Each line in the script should be savored and reviewed over. And over. It makes me laugh, it gives me chills, it makes me cry. This is what film-making is all about. An absolute must-see.

These guys should have won an Oscar twenty years sooner.

10 out of 10, kids.
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Raising Arizona: Devoid of Humour
Baron Ronan Doyle15 January 2011
In the run up to the release of the eagerly anticipated True Grit, I thought it time to catch up with those Coen Brothers films I had yet to see. Made in their formative years, Raising Arizona is the second Coen film, following up the largely decent Blood Simple.

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.
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One of the funniest comedies I've seen in a long time
blazesnakes913 August 2014
When I first heard of Raising Arizona, I was 8 years old. I was spending a weekend with my dad and it was on a Friday night. Usually when I see a movie for the first time on television, I either direct my attention to the screen to see what it is or direct my attention to something that I was doing. I came in right in the middle of the movie and I didn't know what it was about and I certainly didn't understand the concept behind it. But, I do remember laughing and having a good time while watching this movie. Now, looking back on it, it still makes me laugh even harder and longer.

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.
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20 Years Later, This Is Still One Of The Looniest Films I've Ever Seen
ccthemovieman-126 November 2006
When I first saw this I thought it was one of the craziest movies I'd ever seen. Twenty years later, I still feel the same way. No matter how many times I view this, I shake my head in amazement at some of the things I see and hear. It's definitely one-of-a-kind.

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.
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Attempted road-runner like comedy falls flat...
dwpollar24 November 2008
1st watched 11/21/2008 - (Dir-Joel Coen): Attempted road-runner like comedy falls flat of impressing me as it's plodding pace bored me. Despite my expectations before watching this early Coen brothers film, I was somewhat disappointed with this screwball comedy with strange characters. Nicolas Cage has done this kind of non-acting before in other movies and Holly Hunter isn't a whole lot better. The movie is basically about a couple that wants a child, can't have one and decides to steal one of the quintuplets of a local rich family, obviously because they cant handle five. The antics that revolve around this act with other strange characters like a over-the-top motorcycle bounty hunter and prison mates also get in the act of trying to get the child and the reward money. All in all, the ridiculousness doesn't necessarily make for a very funny movie and I'm sure there have been better movies carrying basically this same premise.
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Dumb and Completely Over-the-top
sultana-126 May 2001
Cage is 100% miscast as Southwestern Hick. Goodman is even worse as his loser friend in this obvious and stupid spoof. The Coen brothers get more kudos than any director/producers I know for perpetuating dumb stereotypes and absurd plots with obnoxious scores, all in the name of independent art. These films are independent, because any real studio would be ashamed to make such trash. This film defines the word, "mind-numbing."
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"Son, you got a panty on your head . . . "
icfarm18 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Hilarious! Two then-unknowns, Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter - both future award-winners, and deservedly so - play the most unlikely of couples. Cage is Hi, an "armed" (I use quotation marks because he normally makes sure the gun he carries is not really loaded) convenience-store robber. Upon being arrested, he meets a lovely little police officer named Ed (Hunter) and does not let the circumstances stop him from flirting with her ("What kind of name is Ed for a pretty thing like you?" Her answer: "Short for Edwina. Turn to the RIGHT!) Upon the occasion of his second arrest, he notices that his Officer Ed has clearly been crying. She reveals to him that her fiancée has dumped her for another woman, and he responds by calling her ex a "fool" for leaving her. Hi serves his time and meets other inmates including a trustee (I assume) who simply growls at him as he passes by and two other convicted armed robbers/brothers (John Goodman and William Forsythe; these guys are geniuses at casting). Upon his release, He and Ed are married ("Okay, then", says the pastor who performs the ceremony after they say their I-do's). But something is wrong in paradise. You see, Ed BADLY wants to have a child - or children - and after some time trying to conceive on their own, they decide to see a doctor, who gives them the news that Ed is infertile. Upon trying to adopt, they are rejected because of Hi's, as Ed herself puts it, "checkered" past. But then, they see on television that a local millionaire furniture-store owner who goes by the name Nathan Arizona and his wife have just had a set of quintuplets due to the wife's use of fertility drugs. Rationalizing that it won't be so bad to take one baby from a couple who already have four others, they proceed to kidnap one of the tots (Nathan Junior, they think) and bring him home.

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.
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Power of the Pen
J. Wellington Peevis11 February 2004
As well received as it is, I don't think this film gets the credit its due. It is quite literally the first of the modern scripts, utilizing actual writing and making it as key to the experience as the actors. Its not cliche in this instance to say its not whats being said thats so funny, but how it is being said. By fully exploiting the heretofore under utilized treasure that is American English, the Coens reintroduced mainstream cinema to the screenplay. The rest is pretty damn good too. Its affably off kilter like every Coen venture, Cage and even Hunter are superb, the supporting cast even better. Must see.
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A very, very acquired taste.
bobsgrock17 December 2009
With just their second film, the Coen brothers show that they are willing and capable of creating an entirely different film experience each and every time. After their stunning debut with the sharp, enticing crime thriller Blood Simple, what could be further from that than an oddball, idiosyncratic comedy about an ex-con and an ex-cop getting married and stealing a baby from a set of quintuplets because they can't have kids? Two of the most energetic and gratifying actors working today, Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter, go head-on with their outrageous dialog and characters that are so broad and outlandish, it is impossible to not notice them. Both are good in their respective roles, especially Hunter, but some characters weigh down the story and take time away from those we really want to see. John Goodman and William Forsythe play a couple of inmates who know Cage and hope to rob a bank after escaping. There is also a seemingly frightening and terrifying man-hunter on a motorcycle that seems right out of Mad Max. It was these situations that puzzled me and left me wondering what they were doing in this story.

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.
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What are you people thinking?
flmlvr14 March 1999
Have any of you who voted on this film actually seen it? Don't get me wrong, I love Nicolas Cage but this has got to be his worst performance ever. The fact that this film ranks higher than classics like "The Sound of Music" is appalling to me. Come on people. Let's think before we vote
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A freezing illusion of perfection
CUDIU21 February 2005
This comedy is in the style of others by the Coens (The Big Lebowski and The Ladykillers in particular), only much faster, with one gag following another. It conveys a typical feeling of coldness, just as everything were built and invented with no real inspiration, by just sitting at a table and squeezing into the thing as many brilliant details as a barely 90 minutes long movie can bear. I don't deny that the result is pretty enjoyable, but all the stuff that you have to go through while a credible setting is built out of nothing in the first 30 minutes is as terrifying as Fargo was... you are not even able to smile at it, you are just horrified by this depiction of the squalor of life in "deep" America. After the first minutes you can relax and enjoy a slapstick comedy brilliantly developed and brought to its end. But I don't think this is intellectually superior to any other comedy just because it is by the Coens. I am not surprised at all by the fact that these guys became star-filmmakers in Europe because of much appreciation by the French, who are always appealed by extremely intellectual wit but are never bothered by emptiness of meaning.
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Very disappointing , something for teenagers ,...maybe .
Max (easmax)10 February 2005
Remembering how good I thought FARGO was but not having seen any other Coen bros. film I read the comments and the rating for RAISING ARIZONA here when you listed the 10 films.

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 .
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