Recidivist hold-up man H.I. McDonnough and police woman Edwina marry, only to discover they are unable to conceive a child. Desperate for a baby, the pair decide to kidnap one of the quintuplets of furniture tycoon Nathan Arizona. The McDonnoughs try to keep their crime secret, while friends, co-workers and a feral bounty hunter look to use Nathan Jr. for their own purposes.
Scott Renshaw <[email protected]>
User Reviews: When I first heard of Raising Arizona, I was 8 years old. I was spending a weekend with my dad and it was on a Friday night. Usually when I see a movie for the first time on television, I either direct my attention to the screen to see what it is or direct my attention to something that I was doing. I came in right in the middle of the movie and I didn’t know what it was about and I certainly didn’t understand the concept behind it. But, I do remember laughing and having a good time while watching this movie. Now, looking back on it, it still makes me laugh even harder and longer.
The story centers around a convict/loser named H.I. McDunnough, (Nicholas Cage). His friends called him Hi. For the last several years, Hi has been robbing convenience stores and ending up in the slammer. After three times, Hi decides to go straight. He seeks the attraction of a pretty cop named Edwina "Ed" McDunnough, (Holly Hunter). Soon after, Hi and Ed get married. But, there’s just one problem. They want to raise a family. So, the couple decides to keep trying. But according to a local gynecologist, Ed is infertile, meaning that she can’t have kids. According to Hi’s perspective, he can’t "plant his seed" into Ed. Hopeless, the couple decides to steal one of the Arizona quints. One night, Hi and Ed steal one of the quints from a very wealthy businessman, (Sam McMurray), who owns a furniture store in Arizona.
As the movie progresses, the humor starts to kick in when the local police and the F.B.I. conduct a manhunt on the missing quint. Meanwhile, two prisoners, (John Goodman and William Forsythe), escaped from prison and take shelter in Hi’s home. But, the two prisoners want Hi to go along with them to pull off a heist. While that is going, another character comes walking into the story. An deranged and hellish lone motorcycle driver, (Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb), enters the story through Hi’s dreams and his job is to find the quint and find the people who stole him.
You can see that the movie is quite ambitious for its own kind. To tell you the truth, it is. This is the first comedy being made by the always entertaining movie-making duo, Joel and Ethan Coen. Their movies never ceased to amaze me. They have really carved out a reputation of movie- making with their witty scripts and their zany approach to a story. What surprises me is that this movie is actually their first comedy. Before the Coen brothers made Raising Arizona, they wrote and direct a very dark and violent neo-noir film, Blood Simple, which was released three earlier. This is quite surprising because Blood Simple was a very serious and sometimes bloody film that had a lot of twists and turns in it.
Here, it’s a change of pace. How they were to pull this one off is something that strikes me dumb. Watching the movie, I found myself laughing more than ever since I now understand the themes involved. One of the funniest scenes that I saw and it is the most significant one is when Cage’s character robs a convenience store and disguised himself by putting pantyhose on his head. This plan doesn’t since his wife leaves him behind, having him deal with the trigger-happy clerk and the police. The chase goes all over the place with Cage being chased by the clerk, the police and a pack of dogs. Even in the middle of the chase, Cage is even given a lift with an screaming hayseed driver. The way the chase sequence is shot makes it seems that the chase is being played as a cartoon. Maybe that’s why the scene made me laugh the first time around. It’s that sense of wacko humor that generates a laugh out of the audience. Not only the film’s humor made me laugh, but toward the end of the movie, there’s a bittersweet sense that ties the movie together with the characters trying hard to have a family.
The writing by the brothers is very funny and even the performances by Cage, Hunter, Goodman and even Forsthye are excellent. I did believe that Nicholas Cage was really Hi. The fact that he sports a mustache and a dopey appearance when he is getting his mugshot done is very funny and also interesting.
I’m not really a big fan of comedies because most of them are done pretty badly and never seem to hit me with their humor. That is true in today’s movies. In today’s movies, you can get away with everything. You can get a kick out of a audience that admired slapstick humor or bathroom humor. I understand that perspective. But, I enjoyed watching comedies that have funny dialogue in it. i believe that if you can make an audience laugh out loud with the dialogue, then that can be funny alone. The Coen brothers know how to generate a laugh out of the audience with their style of writing.
Even in the today world, the Coen brothers are still going strong. Last year, they written and directed the Oscar-nominated picture, Inside Llewyn Davis. The brothers seem to really be shifting gears according to the genres. They can frightened you and tantalizes you with Blood Simple. They can make you laugh with Raising Arizona. They can compel you with Miller’s Crossing. And they can jolt you with The Big Lebowski. I wonder what they’re going to do next. ★★★ 1/2 3 1/2 stars.