Saturday, January 23, 2021

Raising Arizona

Movie Name:
Raising Arizona
Year of Release: 1987
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter, John Goodman, William Forsythe, Trey Wilson, Randall Tex Cobb, Frances McDormand, Sam McMurray, M. Emmet Walsh, Lynne Kitei, Peter Benedek, Warren Keith
Genre: Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
After making a splash with their feature directorial debut, "Blood Simple", the Coen brothers followed up that auspicious beginning with the comedy "Raising Arizona". The film follows the story of H.I. McDunnough and his wife Edwina, who goes by the name Ed. H.I. is a petty criminal and Ed is a police officer, and they meet when he's being detained. After being detained quite a few times and eventually paroled, he gets the courage to propose to Ed, and they soon marry. As H.I. settles into suburbia and a calm married life, they decide to have a child. Sadly, Ed is barren, throwing their plans and peaceful existence into disarray. They're crushed by that unfortunate development, until while watching the news, they witness the extraordinary event that a family in Arizona has had quintuplets. Wasting no time, they both decide to take one of the babies for themselves, since they figure the family already has plenty to keep them busy. That's the beginning of a series of events which will put their relationship and their own lives to the test.
"Raising Arizona" is a deliciously over the top comedy, one that feels at times much like a Tex Avery cartoon. It's a film where reality is a jumping point to this universe where these characters live, where most criminals do have a heart of gold, and really awful ones go up in smokes. The directors manage to populate the narrative with a rhythm that is relentless, taking their characters (and the viewers), on an intense journey, one that is realization, but also one that is peppered with great humor. It's a film that quickly establishes the characters and their motivations (though the supporting ones are quite threadbare in terms of dimension), with the sole purpose of keeping the narrative going towards that finish line/epilogue. The cast is phenomenal, bringing all these colorful characters to life, with Nicolas Cage brilliantly leading everyone, with great support from Holly Hunter, John Goodman, William Forsythe, Frances McDormand and Sam McMurray. The camera work from Barry Sonnenfeld, while very influenced by Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead", is tremendous, as is the score from Carter Burwell. One of the Coen brothers best films, always worth revisiting.