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Raising Arizona (1987)
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Review Date: September 02, 2000
Director: Joel Coen
Writer: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Producers: Ethan Coen
Actors:
Nicolas Cage as H.I. McDonnough
Holly Hunter as Ed McDonnough
John Goodman as Gale
Plot:
A simple-minded small-time crook and cute policewoman fall in love and marry. The loving couple cannot have children of their own so they decide to steal one from a local rich family who recently had quintuplets. Unfortunately for them, it isn't long before everyone else, including two ex-cons, a wife swapping foreman and a nasty bounty hunter, find out about their shenanigans, and try to cash in on their own.
Critique:
A perfect film which improves with age, this movie takes all the various elements needed to create an ideal motion picture and nails them right on the head! Let's start from the top. Delivering a story like nobody's business. This is a wonderfully rich and clever tale filled with many cool characters, classic moments and interpretative showdowns. How I never saw the obvious undertone connection between the "bad ass" Leonard Smalls representing Cage's character's dark side is beyond me, but the more I see the film, the more I realize that much of it is a struggle of Cage's own psyche. But don't mind all that serious interpretation shtuff. This film is just plain out hilariously funny! It roars with originality, features dialogue that should be bronzed and saved for generations to come and marinates it all with a charming score that'll have you humming it for weeks. But that's not even the half of it. Let's talk about the performances. All rock solid! Nicolas Cage showing us what he was all about before he became a "big action star". Quirky, goofy, downtrodden hero with a loving heart and a poetic mind. How could you not love this guy?

Holly Hunter playing the ultimate white trash wifey with a precious soul, while others like John Goodman and Frances McDormand sweeten the pie, stuffing the entire film with memorable performances all around. But there's more. One of the most distinctive features of this film is its impeccably stylized direction. I mean, foggedabouttit! Hand-held cameras running around, crane shots, unbelievable stunt tricks (can anyone explain the knife being thrown in the plank shot?), a classic car chase featuring a pack of Huggies at its end and various wide-lensed sequences used only to accentuate the film's over-the-top fantastical comedy feel. Amazing, just amazing. But the Coen masterpiece wouldn't be complete without a touch of the heartstrings as well. One of the last scenes featuring the husband and wife team overlooking a child's crib gets me every time! Wow. A hilarious romp that manages to poke a hole in our tender side, too? Whatta flick. Add all that to the film's infectious prologue and ambiguous epilogue, and you've got a movie that delivers on all counts and more.

A cool story, classic dialogue, excellent performances, a catchy soundtrack, a unique visual flair, humor, drama, thrills, chases, love, hate and a fantastical element soaking the entire film in a blanket of surrealism. So if you love originality in film, if you love the stylized ventures a la Coen and appreciate well-written words intermixed with slap-stick comedy, check this flick out asap! "There's right and there's right and never the t'wain shall meet." Okay, then.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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