Raising Arizona

1987 "Their lawless years are behind them. Their child-rearing years lay ahead..."
7.3| 1h34m| PG-13| en| More Info
Released: 01 March 1987 Released
Producted By: 20th Century Fox
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Synopsis

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 become more complicated than they anticipated.

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Amy Adler In the Tempe, Arizona area, H.I. (Nicolas Cage) loves to hold up convenience stores rather than get a job. This results in multiple arrests, time and again. Taking his mugshot is Ed (Holly Hunter), a police officer of tiny stature. H.I. has a fancy for Edwina, and, when learning her fiancé left her, he asks her to wait for him. In prison, H.I. bonds with other crooks like Gale (John Goodman) and Evelle. However, after his last parole, he marries Ed and vows to live the straight and narrow. It's hard. Working in a factory, H.I. notes how similar it is to prison, only you get a paycheck and a place to relax when the day is done. Pretty soon, Ed is wild to have a baby to join them in their modest mobile home. But, alas, Ed is infertile. There are hours and hours of tears. But, one bright day, Ed reads a newspaper article about a local businessman welcoming quints; Harry Barry Larry Garry and Nathan Jr. Ho ho, one couple doesn't need five young uns when others have none. So, Edwina, no longer on the force from her depression, goads H.I. into kidnapping one of the quints. He succeeds. But, wouldn't you know it, when word comes of the kidnapping, others want to get their hands on the baby, too. This includes Gale and Evelle who have tunneled out of jail and a wild bounty hunter. Can domestic life be possible for H.I. and Ed? This hoot of a film is one of the Coen Brothers best and a foundation for their reputation. Cage and Hunter are marvelous and the supporting cast is, too. Most noteworthy is the appearance of the very intelligent baby, who never cries but is often a source of supreme mirth. Certainly, the dusty terrain of Arizona is intriguing, as are the wild hairstyles and costumes. Yet, it is the script and direction by the Coens that make for a uniquely American film with longlasting value. Raisiing the roof off your house with laughter will be easy when you view this fine flick.
SimonJack Early into this movie, I began to long for the crispy, witty dialog and funny scenes of the great comedies of the mid-20th century. A little longer and I longed for the hilarious antics of the screwball comedies and frantic escapades of the movies of yore. And shortly, I pined for the clever, funny and wonderful plots of the old comedies. In the absence of any and all of that, "Raising Arizona" is little more than a stupid conglomeration of skits. If there is any real humor here, its disguised by nitwit characters in a dumber than dumb story. This was one of the hardest films to stay with, just to see how it ended. How anyone can find this enjoyable is beyond me. I thought about bailing on it twice, but then I wouldn't be able to be fair in a review of the film. I stayed, and my review is that this film was a waste of time – in its making and for anyone who watches it. The only character that comes close to any humor is Nathan Arizona Sr. (played by Trey Wilson) – but just in his early scenes. For clever and funny writing, I could think of only one line that might get a smile from a few viewers. That's this one when Leonard Smalls (played by Randall Cobb) visits Nathan Sr. Smalls, "You wanna find an outlaw, you call an outlaw. You wanna find a Dunkin' Donuts, call a cop." The Coen brothers tried to use techniques that were very funny in original films of decades ago, but all flop here. One is a haphazard police chase with continuous shooting that hits nothing. Another is a chase in and around, up and down, and through different rooms in a house. This is a dumb movie, with mostly dumb acting, a dumb script, dumb scenes and a dumb story. Audiences of the day, and the critics, didn't think that much of the movie then. But as society seems to dumb down in succeeding decades, this movie has viewers who enjoy it. I wonder if most have ever seen any of the great comedies of the past. The film does have a touch of sickness about it, in toying with various crimes as humorous. This is a dud of a movie,
Ryan Rogers Raising Arizona Film ReviewIn a time where so many comedies made today are filled with immature jokes, poor plots, and unrealistic circumstance, the Coen Brothers are able to produce a well-done comedy that does more than just achieve a few laughs. The film makes viewers feel for the main characters and their hardships, creates a viable villain that will stop at nothing while also giving the audience exactly what they came for-to be entertained and to laugh. The events of Raising Arizona take place during the Reagan era in the United States' history. While going to prison for another crime committed, H.I. McDunnough (Nicolas Cage) meets a young female cop by the name of Edwina (Holly Hunter) that he eventually falls in love with. After being set free, he marries her and they begin their life together in Arizona. When the couple find out they cannot have children of their own, they come up with an extravagant plan to steal one of a group of quintuplets from a local family. H.I. must adjust to the family man lifestyle while also dealing with the consequences that arise as the result of kidnapping the baby. The Coen brothers almost always do a quality job of bringing resonance to the films they direct. In this case, they achieve this through biblical and mythological allusions permeating into the plot. In Raising Arizona, issues of fertility, class, a talisman, and the ubiquity of dreams all arise, issues that also occurred in parts of the Bible. Since H.I. and Edwina cannot have a child, an issue of fertility, the couple elects to steal a baby from a family they feel are of higher class that do not deserve 4 children all to themselves. Dr. Spock's Baby and Childcare is a talisman because it goes with whoever currently has ownership of the baby, Nathan Jr. The ubiquity of dreams plays a key role in the movie when "something supernatural" is unleashed to get back the baby in one of H.I.'s dreams. This element is used to move the plot as Leonard Smalls (Randall Cobb), the man seen in H.I.'s dream, becomes a reality. The brothers also include a well-rounded amount of tropes in the film. H.I.'s change in clothes during one scene also shows his change in status or persona. He changes from a robber that does not want to give up his old ways to a family man that must learn to take care of his family. Two criminals escape prison during a downpour. This flood represents a clean slate and an opportunity at new lives for both of the escapees. Another element that brings success to the movie is the verisimilitude within. The Coens chose to cast several locals to give the film a sense of realism as well as an authentic, local flavor. Thanks to a wide range of shot types, including point- of-view and chase shots, Raising Arizona is able to be extremely dynamic, making it easier for the viewer to watch and drawing one's attention. Despite many positives, the film also has several negatives that do take away from the experience. H.I. lives in a desert in the middle of nowhere in Arizona where many people use slang often. However, when H.I. narrates the story, he uses extremely elegant dialogue, dialogue that would probably only be used by someone with a high form of education at the time. This dialogue was unconvincing sometimes and seemed a bit unrealistic. There is also a very shallow side-story involving two escaped criminals that takes away from the plot and does not really bring much as far as character development goes. Both the men's characters seem silly and take away from the film itself. As Roger Ebert puts it, "The movie cannot decide if it exists in the real world of trailer parks and 7-Elevens and Pampers, or in a fantasy world of characters from another dimension. It cannot decide if it is about real people, or comic exaggerations." The movie almost tries to be more than it really is by having relatable humor and heartfelt moments but also being unrealistic and displaying an exaggerated sense of reality. Raising Arizona is an enjoyable viewing experience that does have lots of laughs and characters that audiences will love. However, the movie just does not seem to know what it really is and tries to compensate by being realistic and absurd at the same time. Audiences looking for a relaxed, fun time or a family-friendly comedy should see this film. Very critical viewers that don't like quests or absurdity should not watch the film. Overall, Raising Arizona is a fun viewing experience but not much more than that. It deserves a 6 out of 10.
higherall7 Just a howl from start to finish! The exposition is marvelously evolved and the opening credits as grand as any narrative hook sent to arrest you and go gunning down the road. This is a beautiful and yet sensitive and sympathetic portrayal of Midwestern and Southern white folk also referred to as so-called 'white trash'. Carter Burwell really knows what he is doing with the music; a mixture of organ, banjo, whistling and yodeling; and the Coen brothers edit it all in to the brilliant chase sequences with verve and exhilaration until music and motion are almost a form of high poetry.The lines of dialogue are as good as anything Abbott and Costello could have devised and it's fun to watch Nicholas Cage race around as reformed ex con H.I. McDunnough to see who's on first. Holly Hunter as his twice decorated police officer wife is also wonderfully histrionic as Edwin 'Ed' McDunnough and Randall 'Tex' Cobb comes riding out the hell of one of H.I. McDunnough's nightmares as though sent on a mission from the Grim Reaper. John Goodman and William Forsythe as the Gale and Evelle Snoats brothers cheerfully demonstrate the bonds of friendship that can accrue between members of the penal institution. Trey Wilson has some of the best lines as the harried, upright television entrepreneur Nathan Arizona, and comes across at turns as savvy, righteously indignant, and even wise about the human condition in a homespun sort of way.Admittedly many of the characters are caricatures of real life people and look and act like refugees from a Robert Crumb comic strip, the far side of the moon exaggeration of so-called 'crackers' we would make jokes about after games of softball and drinking cool-aid. But it is fun to watch these denizens of the New South and New West cavort around in their own buffoonery and misdirection with those famous narrow-minded attitudes and folksy perspectives we have all come to know and love. I found it a welcome respite from all the charges about how black folks were compelled to be the clowns and buffoons and indulge in all manner of coonery for the entertainment of largely white audiences. I found these under-educated, none too bright citizens of the Coen Universe oddly charming in their furious attempts to entertain me for once.The most appealing part of the film for me comes at the end when H.I. McDunnough has a dream that takes him into the Future. I have read that one of the limitations of the criminal mind is its inability to properly forecast a positive Future. Here at the film's conclusion McDunnough seems to evolve psychologically to make this quantum leap into a new beginning. This is quite an endearing sequence and it is hard to fault a couple who wanted to create a family so bad they would break or bend any law known to man or beast to get it. After all, isn't that the American Way?Or was that last night's pickles and ice cream talking?