Top positive review
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"Biology and the prejudices of others conspired to keep us childless."
on 20 October 2011
Repeat offender Herbert finds romance in an unlikely place, and after several meetings at the police station he proposes to police officer Edwina. It's a white-trash fairytale - until they realise they are unable to have children together. When a local couple have six babies in one go - they figure they won't miss one...
This Coen brothers comedy manages to turn a pair of child snatchers into a couple you feel for. Although they are child abductors it's difficult to dislike them, their reasoning is flawed but they are driven by good intentions and despite their actions they are essentially well meaning folk who have lost touch with reality. After stealing one of the quints they feel their family is complete and their love for their new son is touching, you know that it can't last though and events become more surreal when old friends turn up on the doorstep - when you're trying to not attract the attention of the law you really don't need escaped convicts lodging in your house.
Both Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter are perfectly cast as the dysfunctional couple. This dark comedy contains more drama than humour and their ability to portray inner turmoil makes them feel like rounded individuals, they have an emotional depth and their own personal story helps drive the film. Despite the craziness of the situation, the drama surrounding their relationship is powerful and the most effective scenes are the ones where it's just Cage and Hunter. We aren't just watching a daft comedy about a childless couple running from the law, we get so see a relationship which at first appeared solid, start to break down because of the pressure it tries to absorb. This is something of a human tragedy and the viewer witnesses Herb and Ed begin to re-assess their lives and come to some difficult realisations.
Most of the humour comes from the prison escapees, John Goodman is particularly brilliant and their scenes often descend into farce. The pure comedy elements are sometimes stretched to excessive duration and tend to drag, it's something which benefits the more intense scenes, but it can stilt the funny parts so that they lose their impact. There are surreal moments too, concerning a biker who appears in visions, which don't seem to fit in with the rest of the film. But for all of the bits which don't work as well there are moments of absolute brilliance which make the film an edgy and genuinely entertaining watch.
In a nutshell: Superb acting and a clever script mean that this trailer-park farce retains enough heart to bring the characters to life and make you want to see what happens to them - though maybe not the devil biker guy.