7.3/10
40,177
82 user 43 critic

Arizona Dream (1993)

A young New Yorker goes to Arizona where he finds freedom to both love and dream.

Director:

Emir Kusturica

Writers:

David Atkins (story), Emir Kusturica (story) | 1 more credit »
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4 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Johnny Depp ... Axel Blackmar
Jerry Lewis ... Leo Sweetie
Faye Dunaway ... Elaine Stalker
Lili Taylor ... Grace Stalker
Vincent Gallo ... Paul Leger
Paulina Porizkova ... Millie
Michael J. Pollard ... Fabian
Candyce Mason Candyce Mason ... Blanche
Alexia Rane Alexia Rane ... Angie
Polly Noonan Polly Noonan ... Betty
Ann Schulman Ann Schulman ... Carla
James R. Wilson James R. Wilson ... Lawyer
Erik Polczwartek Erik Polczwartek ... Man with Door
Kim Keo Kim Keo ... Mechanical Doll
Patricia O'Grady Patricia O'Grady ... MC / Announcer
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Storyline

An Innuit hunter races his sled home with a fresh-caught halibut. This fish pervades the entire film, in real and imaginary form. Meanwhile, Axel tags fish in New York as a naturalist's gofer. He's happy there, but a messenger arrives to bring him to Arizona for his uncle's wedding. It's a ruse to get Axel into the family business. In Arizona, Axel meets two odd women: vivacious, needy, and plagued by neuroses and familial discord. He gets romantically involved with one, while the other, rich but depressed, plays accordion tunes to a gaggle of pet turtles. Written by Greg Pribyl <gpribyl@isd.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A rebellious young man. With his own vision of the future. And his own fantasy of love.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Johnny Depp and Faye Dunaway also co-starred in Don Juan DeMarco (1994). See more »

Goofs

Since the movie took about a year to shoot, Axel's hair length changes drastically throughout the film. In the beginning, when he talks to Paul up until when they arrive at Leo's house, his hair is longer than in the next few scenes when he spends time with his uncle. It's long again when he starts staying at Elaine's house. See more »

Quotes

Axel Blackmar: Columbus wouldn't think I was crazy for building a flying machine, because history is all dreams. No rules or books. It's just there, waiting to be discovered like when Columbus found this place. I don't know if he found his dream.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits read: "Any reference to Cadillac dealerships or dealers is purely fictional. The Cadillac automobile was selected for the film because it was and continues to represent the epitomy (sic) of American automobile design." See more »

Alternate Versions

Originally released in Europe at 142 minutes. The USA version was cut down to 119 minutes but the complete version was also released theatrically. Only the short version is available on video in the USA. See more »

Connections

Referenced in O tzitzikas & o mermigas: Episode #1.3 (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

El Sinaloense
Performed by Severiano Briseño
See more »

User Reviews

A curio that delights in specific scenes and lines but fails as a dramatic film
30 September 2009 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Axel is happy with his life in New York, having long since left what remains of his family behind him in Arizona. When his Uncle Leo is getting married, Axel is forced back home by his friend Paul. He finds his Uncle marrying a much younger woman and, while he wishes to leave as soon as he arrives, he finds himself staying around and selling cars with his Uncle – a job he maintains he has to desire to do. It is on the lot that he meets the dysfunctional mother and stepdaughter Elaine and Grace, the former of which he falls for and begins a relationship that evolves into an obsession with building a flying machine. Meanwhile, in stark contrast to his current desert setting, Axel's dreams continue to centre on an Inuit family and a flat fish with its face all on one side.

Well over a decade ago now I used to make much more of an effort to get to my local cinema. At that time I lived near an independent art-house style cinema that, while it showed all the big releases on its two screens, it did also give over time to smaller independent films. It was here that I saw Arizona Dream – a film that I then never saw or heard of for another ten or so years until for some reason I remembered it and decided to watch it again. I couldn't remember much about it apart from a few scenes, nor if I had liked it or not so to all intents and purposes I was coming to it fresh. I say this but by the end of the film I had certainly remembered why I could recall specific scenes and my enjoyment of them but had no strong memory of the total film – the reason being that the film is at its best in small chunks but fails to work as a whole.

The story is this wonderfully off-the-wall tale of love and dreams that fires out outrageous characters with abandon, allowing for many memorable scenes and quotable lines. It is comic, creative, silly and enjoyable. But it is also a bit tiring. The scenes don't come together as I would have liked and the general air of silliness undermines how much I was able to get emotionally involved and care about where the story was going. That it is almost two and a half hours long only serves to highlight this and it really does feel indulgent and unwilling to give anything up. The fault for this certainly lies with Kusturica as writer and director. He certainly has a creative flair to him, an ear for dialogue and an eye for a shot but his approach fragments the film and he doesn't manage to pull the heart of the viewer along with him. He does get good turns from his cast well, all of whom trusted him and seemed to go wherever he wanted them to go. Depp is wonderful as always, so willing to go with it, so willing to try anything and it pays off by him being good here. Lewis was a surprise to me then and was again on this viewing, he is solid in his character and he has this great presence that holds the attention. Gallo is also good although he is helped by how many of the better scenes he is the focal point in. Dunaway and Taylor both deliver their characters well and it is just a shame that their characters are the more "difficult" ones to like within the film – I think they did well though, I just acknowledge that I struggled with them due to their characters.

As with all cult films there will be those that see great beauty in this film and love it beyond all reason. I salute them and I envy them to a point and, while I disagree with them, this does not make them wrong and me right. However to the majority of casual viewers this film will come over as a total curio piece that provides delight and enjoyment in specific scenes but doesn't work as a total film and certainly doesn't have enough to it to justify the overlong running time.


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Details

Country:

USA | France

Language:

English | Spanish | Inuktitut

Release Date:

9 September 1994 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Arrowtooth Waltz See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$19,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,887, 11 June 1995

Gross USA:

$112,547

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$112,547
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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