Raising Arizona (1987)

84.

★★★

Directed by: Joel Coen
Written by: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter and Trey Wilson

With plenty of cartoonish car chases, pro-yodeling, and other  hilarious quirks, the Coen Brothers unleash their wild imaginations in Raising Arizona – a screwball comedy about an ex-con and an ex-cop kidnapping a baby from quintuplets since they can’t have their own children. While the characters are certainly likeable, and moments of Coen-esque hilarity keep us on our toes, Raising Arizona spends too much time on gags and not enough time developing a story that set off on a very promising and original premise.

We’re framing this one.

H.I (Cage) fell in love with Ed (Hunter) while she was taking his mug shots. After being thrown into prison time and time again for small convenience store robberies, H.I finally finds a reason to stay out of jail – eventually marrying Ed and deciding their home in an Arizona trailer park could do with a youngster. The only problem is, Ed can’t have children. So when the couple hear that the TV-famous funiture salesman has quintuplets, they decide to take one off his hands as a favor to him and the baby. But when two of H.I’s jail-time buddies escape and scheme a bank robbery, and a mysterious lone bikey intends to track down the baby for ransom money, H.I and Ed realize they’re going to have a much harder time parenting than they could have ever imagined.

With comedic exaggerations scattered throughout the film, Raising Arizona fluctuates between more serious ideas of parenting and love, to grenade-struck rabbits and a hoedown of silly punches and near-death collisions. Going from the focused and concentrated plight of H.I and Ed, we soon become distracted by the subplots of the two jailbreakers and the biker who both bring problems for H.I and Ed, but also draw the story away from the more interesting and compelling ideas that were set up in the first place. Nevertheless – like most Coen Brothers films – Raising Arizona is downright fun to watch and full of inventive and clever surprises that make the film, at best, enjoyable.

 

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