Raising Arizona

Dir: Joel & Ethan Coen, 1987. Starring: Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter, John Goodman, William Forsythe, Frances McDormand. Comedy.
Raising Arizona

A childless-couple, with no hope of their own, decides to kidnap one of furniture tycoon Nathan Arizona’s eight babies. But once they do, life takes a serious turn, giving them much more than they bargained for.

In this early effort by the Oscar-winning Coen Brothers (No Country for Old Men), the duo makes a timeless classic of the absurd. The script is hugely original and chock-full of many memorable lines. There is no scene-wasting as these people’s lives spin out of control with pitch-perfect tone throughout.

Strengthening the effect is Barry Sonnefeld’s comedic cinematography of extreme angles and fast zooms and Carter Burwell’s strange and quirky score.

As “H.I. ‘Call Me Hi' McDunnough,” Nicolas Cage (Adaptation) gives not only one of his finest performances in a long and diverse career, but one of comedic cinema’s greatest and most endearing characters. With his slow drawl and extremely exaggerated facial expressions, Hi is a man who provides endless laughter.

Holly Hunter (The Piano) is wonderfully domestically domineering as Hi’s better-half “Edwina.” Her long career in law enforcement comes crashing down once she realizes she is barren. And once she does, the “salad days” of their trailer park desert life falls apart—leading them to think that kidnapping is the key to all their dreams.

John Goodman (The Big Lebowski) and William Forsythe (American Me) are fantastically dimwitted as two criminals-for-life brothers who break out of prison, searching out Hi for one last big time hayseed bank.

A solid cast of supporting performances led by Francis McDormand (Fargo) and Sam McMurray (Drop Dead Gorgeous) as a “swinger” couple who can’t stop having kids. Also, former boxer, Randall “Tex” Cobb as Hi’s surly-ogre-in-leather-biker-doppelganger is perfectly hard, but ridiculous.

Raising Arizona is a timeless and very idiosyncratic comedy that stands the test of time—ranking as one of the finest works in the Coen’s canon.

Posted by:
Seamus Smith
Feb 7, 2009 3:53pm
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