on 27 May 2000
This is one of the great overlooked comedies of all time. It features Nicholas Cage, John Gooden and Holly Hunter in roles that will be a surprise to you based on other work they've done. Nicholas Cage in particular is great fun as a loopy crook who is attempting to set his life straight when his wife (Holly Hunter) decides they need to kidnap a baby; John Gooden is Cage's ex-con buddy. But instead of following this formula through predictable, Hollywood paces, the Coen brothers send it over-the-top. You can't help but laugh at the plot, the actors, and the movie makers themselves for putting this concoction together. Buy it, watch it, make your friends watch it.
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.
on 12 May 2003
If, like me, you hate all that 'over the top' american humour that seems to be rammed down our throat's by 'this years stand up comedian turned actor' then you'll love this 'over the top' american comedy. Yes it's farcical at times and yes it's in an 'over the top' style but it's totally balanced by the fact that this film contains so much fantastic humour. Hunter and Cage act their socks off as a comedy/tragic couple rather in the way Hoskins did in Roger Rabbit, The Coen brothers - what were they on when they wrote this - yet it's all done with such precission and timing, then add to that the manic camera work of Sonnenfeld and the totally manic sondtrack of Burwell, plus John Goodman at his mean best and you get the feeling that everything must have just slotted into place nicely on set, which probably belies the real amount of effort that must have gone into making this film.
So take next years 'stand up comedian turned actor' and sit him down to watch this before he even thinks of wasting our valuable time. This sends canned laughter back to where it belongs - the can.
on 26 March 2007
This was a firm favourite of mine as a teenager, due mainly to the plethora of brilliantly quotable lines (teenagers,eh?) But it is still just as original, funny, strange and clever as it ever was, with a great cast of actors, the role of a lifetime for Nicolas Cage, which i'm sure helped him break out and be considered a very versatile actor, and of course the ever fantastic Holly Hunter, plus some wonderful supporting players. The Cohen brothers may of gone on and honed their craft as film makers,but they have never beaten Raising Arizona for laughs.
on 16 October 2014
The film plays brilliantly...was recommended by a friend as a great movie to watch. I dont call it great at all. N Cage is MUCH better now that he is older and has less hair ;-) My not caring about the film has nothing to do with the seller or their merchandise, just the movie.
Ed, a Policewoman, and Hi, a habitual criminal, can't have a baby for medical reasons. However they desperately want to be a proper “family” so they decide to steal one!
Not an obvious story for a comedy you might think, but in the hands of the Coen Brothers (writer and director) and Barry Sonnenfeld (cinematographer), who made together the truly wonderful “Blood Simple” the year before, you would be surprised at how laugh out loud funny it is. Raising Arizona (RA) is a weird and wonderful blast of inventiveness that has now become something of a cult movie, and some would argue the Coen's best to date. I wouldn't go that far but it's definitely in the top 5
Holly Hunter and Nicholas cage both put in superb performances as Ed and Hi, they really do sell that manically surreal story with real conviction. Barry Sonnenfeld's stylish and extremely quirky cinematography, later used to great effect in The Adams Family and Men in Black, helps keep the film slightly off centre and dreamlike, the Coen's trademark writing skills and sharp dialogue is as apparent as ever.
It's not for everyone, Nic Cage's manic intensity could put some off, and that quirky camera work can be a bit of a strain if you can't buy into it, but for me the over the top performances, stylish photography and that Coen's proven ability to direct comedy win the day.
on 22 March 2013
Nicolas Cage at his most, geeky and awkward and so un-Mr Hollywood(en) best! Why, oh why, did he head down to the Hollywood strip and Sunset Boulevard and not stay in Arizona? He had talent a plenty without all the bolted on externals that followed his rise to fame.
He appears as a hapless yet loveable rogue, as unsuccessful in filling a swag bag with loot as he is fertilising his wife, Edwina's eggs.
So, our poor hen pecked and inadequate hero steals a baby (with the aid of his wife, Ed) and that's about all you need to know.
Oh,except of course, that even in the wilds of Arizona, some things just can't be kept secret for too long.
Follow the adventures of H.I. Ed and Nathan jr as they are pursued by the Devil's darkest angel, clad in leathers, riding a Harley Davison motorcycyle.
on 21 November 2012
One of my favourite Coen brothers films, almost a live action cartoon in some stretches. Nicholas of Cage is superb as the dumb ass H.I trying to keep his 'family' together. There are some superb lines and exemplary screaming from all involved. Not for fans of the brothers more serious work.
on 29 April 2016
It's clear that the Coen's were master filmmakers from the off. Raising Arizona is up there with their best movies, showcasing everything that makes the Coen's great, from their off kilter realities to their snappy dialogue.
on 16 August 2006
A smooth talking recidivist convenience store robber, falls for the police photographer who takes his mug-shot whenever he gets incarcerated. They marry, she gives up police work, he tries to go straight, they plan a family, she finds she can't have children, she sends him out to steal a baby from a couple whose fertility treatment resulted in a spectacular multiple-birth - quintuplets. They get a visit from a couple of his prison chums who tunnelled out, and who formulate their own plans for the baby. Then they get a visit from his employer and his wife and hellish kids, and they also have designs on the baby. Then some sort of spawn of the devil rides in on his Harley to "rescue" the baby. It all sounds very ordinary, doesn't it? Just every day stuff. I should also mention that it's incredibly funny though it may not sound like that from my pale and inadequate description.
I've become a fan of the Coen Bros films over recent months. There's something so twisted, delicious, irresistible and unexpected about their humour that once I'd watched three or four and noticed that all these gems were coming from the same two writers, I started scouring Amazon for more. I highly recommend this film and if you like it, then you'll probably like the others. My favourites are this film, The Hudsucker Proxy, O Brother Where Art Thou, The Big Lebowski and The Man Who Wasn't There. There are a couple that I've yet to see so that list could be shuffled later. If you haven't tried any of these films, do try one and you might find that you too become a Coen addict.