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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Aug 14: Raising Arizona


Aug 14: Raising Arizona

"When a childless couple of an ex-con and an ex-cop decide to help themselves to one of another family's quintuplets, their lives get more complicated than they anticipated."
Directed by: Joel & Ethan Coen, Rated: PG-13, 94 minutes

Raising Arizona is one of the most entertaining screw-ball comedies of all time. It's the Coen brothers debut in the black comedy genre and puts together a terrific cast full of over-the-top cartoon characters that find themselves in deeper than they hoped. The film is delightfully original and tells a story so bizarre and strange that you can't help but enjoy every moment of it. And, being Cage Week and all, Raising Arizona gives us one of Cage's breakout performances and he's never been better. 

Awwww yeah.  

The story follows H.I (Cage), an ex-con, and his wife, Ed (Holly Hunter), a cop. The two are blissfully married and have the seemingly perfect life. H.I has straightened out his life for his new love and promises to do whatever it takes to make her happy. When they discover that Ed is barren and cannot have children, the two try every legal mean possible to have a child of their own. However, H.I's "checkered background" prevents the couple from adopting. Meanwhile, in their little south western town, the Arizonas, Nathan (Trey Wilson) and Florence have just given birth to quintuplets. H.I and Ed see this as their opportunity to have a child and think that the Arizonas have their hands full already and that relieving them of one of their newborns would not only be justified but also what God would want. Thus, H.I breaks into the Arizonas house, kidnaps one of the quintuplets (he thinks it's Nathan Jr.), and returns to his wife who's happier than a clam to finally have a child. Nathan Arizona, the owner of Arizona's largest unpainted furntiture warehouse, puts up a $25,000 reward to whoever can return his baby to him and H.I and Ed struggle in figuring out what to do now that they're in hot water and in hiding. Throw in another two ex-cons, the Snoats brothers (John Goodman and William Forsythe), a scary bounty hunter, and a rather incompetent police force and Raising Arizona becomes a crazy ride through the American southwest. 

Whoa, now.

Now, I'm a huge fan of the Coen Brothers and have seen all of their films multiple times. Raising Arizona, one of their first, is also one of their best movies. While most comedies taper out towards the end, Raising Arizona is constant with the laughs and ridiculous situations. When you think it can't get any better (or funnier), the film raises the bar another level and outdoes itself. The film is full of a cast of caricatures and exaggerated scenarios and any realism goes out the door almost immediately to a grand effect. Raising Arizona blends a pitch-perfect script with an absolute perfect cast and turns the comedy into something worth talking about 20 years later. 

They wouldn't have those Oscars without Arizona

As you can tell, I would highly recommend Raising Arizona. I had not seen the film for a couple of years before today and after re-watching I can only reaffirm my love for it. The Coen Brothers are two of the most unique filmmakers working today and while they have expanded their style to some extent, a lot of what is in each of their more recent movies has some connection to Raising Arizona. The film also helped jump-start the careers of Cage and Hunter, who have both gone onto follow their own paths quite successfully and also is the first time the Brothers worked with John Goodman, and you can now see the wondrous places that relationship has gone. 

The Good:
a script so crazy, yet so full of heart (in it's own little way) that turns unlikable people into great sympathetic characters
The Better:
a terrific cast that includes Cage, Hunter, Goodman, and more
The Cage:
perfect and over-the-top...  well before the crazy

Overall: 9.5/10

Four and a half Cages out of Five


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At August 15, 2012 at 9:09 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not a fan of Nicholas Cage or a big fan of this movie. I know, admitting to not liking Nicholas Cage on your blog seems almost rude. :-)

However, I do think this film has some great dialogue. And I re-watched it the other day and found it a lot funnier than I did the first time. Maybe it's one of those comedies that needs to grow on me. And the Coens are, without a doubt, among my favorite film-makers.

Excellent review! I love your writing style.

At August 15, 2012 at 9:10 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, I LOVED John Goodman in this. He was also awesome in Barton Fink. Has he been in any other Coen movies?

At August 15, 2012 at 9:18 AM , Blogger Nick said...

Raising Arizona, Barton Fink, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou?, and is going to be in there movie out this here, Inside Llewyn Davis.

At August 15, 2012 at 9:19 AM , Blogger Nick said...

Thanks again for stopping by. It's a little rude ;) but I won't hold it against you lol. Just kidding.

But yes, after re-watching it for Cage Week, I forgot how great is is. Shame you don't like it, especially if you like the Coen Bros' other work.

At August 18, 2012 at 9:30 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh right ... silly question. How could I have forgotten him in O Brother Where Art Thou and The Big Lebowski? Must've had a serious case of middle aged brain. ;-)

At August 18, 2012 at 9:31 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I'll admit Raising Arizona did start growing on me in the second viewing. :)

At August 18, 2012 at 2:21 PM , Blogger Nick said...

It does that lol

At August 18, 2012 at 2:21 PM , Blogger Nick said...

No worries. He' hard to miss... ;)


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