Joe Movie - Raising Arizona

Category:  BloggERy
Monday, August 20th, 2012 at 5:48 PM
Joe Movie - Raising Arizona by Joe Chiodo

“Raising Arizona” (1987)

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This past spring, I took a course called “Film Appreciation.”  The class focused on the evolution of comedy in film, from silent films of the 1920s all the way until now.  The last film we were scheduled to view in class was “Raising Arizona,” a movie I was only vaguely aware of.  However, what I did know about “Raising Arizona” was that it was created by two of my favorite filmmakers, Joel and Ethan Coen.  So, when the year quickly came to an end, we never got a chance to view “Raising Arizona”, so I took it upon myself to actively pursue a copy of the film.

It wasn’t until I recently found “Raising Arizona” online for a reasonable (cheap) price that I finally got my chance to see it.  And let me tell you, it was long overdue. 

Joel and Ethan Coen are well known for their work together, including films such as “The Big Lebowski,” “O Brother, Where Art Thou,” and most recently “True Grit.”  The Coen brothers are one of the few filmmakers that can produce for all different genres, from westerns and gritty crime stories to goofy comedies with offbeat humor.

“Raising Arizona” starts off as offbeat as it ends.  Career criminal Herbert I. “Hi” McDunnough (Nicholas Cage) is picked up on a petty robbery charge—and not his first one.  While being booked in the station, Hi meets police officer Edwina “Ed” (Holly Hunter).  As often happens to career criminals, Hi is routinely caught by the police.  As he continues to get caught, he spends more and more time with Ed.  Eventually, Hi and Ed fall in love.  Ed leaves the police force and marries Hi.  Together, they move into Hi’s trailer out in the desert.

Everything is going great for Hi and Ed.  Hi quits his criminal ways and avoids temptation as all costs, dedicating himself to his wife.  A new life begins for the both of them, and the only thing left to do is to bring a new life into the world to enjoy it with them.

However, when Ed finds out she is unable to bear children, all hell breaks loose.  Devastated, Ed demands Hi find them a kid.  With a criminal record, Hi is unable to adopt, leaving him with little hope.  That is, until the “Arizona Quints” are born to local celebrity, Nathan Arizona and his wife.  By justifying that Arizona now has more kids than he can handle, Hi steals one of his newborns.  Hi and Ed decide to name him Junior—at least until they think of something better.

Shortly afterwards, two of Hi’s old prison buddies (John Goodman and William Forsythe) tunnel out and come shack up in his trailer with Ed and Junior.  This is just the beginning of Hi’s new family’s problems, as they pressure Hi into getting back to his old illegal ways.  However, Hi resists and his prison buddies kidnap Junior, starting an unbelievable chain of events that include a perverted boss, the meanest looking bounty hunter you’ll ever see, and numerous crazed and confused Arizona citizens getting between Hi and his family. 

“Raising Arizona” is awesome.  Plain and simple. It’s a Coen brother’s film, so it should be expected.  The humor is sharp and effective, utilizing a strong cast and believable situations.  The Coen brothers do a fantastic job combining the hardships of raising a child with the rewards of doing so.  Cage is great as a dim-witted and passionate young father, again showcasing his ability to portray just about any character on screen.  “Raising Arizona” is a must see for any comedy fan.

Joe Movie rating: 4/5

The Good:

-        Classic Coen brother’s work.

-        Cage’s performance is incredibly entertaining.

-        Consistently funny throughout.

The Bad:

-        Jumps from seriously funny to seriously serious situations rather quickly.

-        Hunter’s performance is flat and not memorable. 

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