Raising Arizona

Year: 1987
Directed By: Joel and Ethan Coen
Written By: Joel and Ethan Coen

RYAN’S REVIEW

I actually remember catching clips from this movie as a kid in the 80s on HBO. Long before I ever knew who the Coen brothers were or before I ever saw the movie with an understanding eye. It’s an interesting thing I like to consider and a memory I smile on. It makes this movie more endearing to me in an odd way. I think this is a delightfully charming movie that has always gotten better with each viewing.

I’ve always thought of this movie as full on Coen. In that I mean that it has all their greatest qualities rolled into one. It is funny in an intelligent and interesting way with a script that could only come from the Coens. There are interesting characters and action sequences that come out of no where but manage to be both exciting and funny at the same time. I have always loved the Coens and own a great many of their films. This one happens to be one of my favorites yet I find it hard to really explain why. It’s such a smart yet silly movie. I think the dialogue is the reason for that. The characters we watch are generally stupid but they speak in humorous creativity with an amazing vocabulary.

There is good Nicolas Cage– and bad Nicolas Cage. These days we don’t seem to see much more than the bad version but in 1987 and as H.I. McDunnough Cage is really funny. He’s so simple yet well spoken that I find it hilarious. That hair that he has is awesome and he rocks it with a look of pure stupidity on his face that makes me laugh every time. When he goes back to armed robbery and steals the Huggies I think he is part of one of the greatest action sequences ever. One that only the Coens could have concocted. The panties hoes, the shooting, the chasing dogs, and then the ending series of turns that leads them back to the Huggies is a work of sequential harmony.

My favorite performance in this film actually goes to Holly Hunter though. She has such a great accent in this movie and I love her womanly dramatics. My favorite scene is when she is in the car with Nathan Jr. after the kidnapping and she suddenly screams out “I JUST LOVE HIM SO MUCH!!!!” as she begins to cry hysterically. I think it is a hilarious scene and I do think Holly Hunter manages to steal the screen often in this movie. Her accent is remarkable. I love her from the get go when she mentions how her “fi-ance” had left her. She is flawlessly funny in this movie.

The Coen’s have always had a knack for including an out of the ordinary character in their films that leaves an impression on the audience. In this movie that character is Leonard Smalls played by Randall “Tex” Cobb. Smalls is such a scary guy that H.I. considers him a demon formed right out of his own sin to hunt him down and punish him.  When Smalls proves to be an actual person with demands of his own I think it only serves to make him more badass. He is such an intimidating man but when he snatches the fly out of the air right in front of Nathan Arizona’s face it puts him over the top. Smalls as a character is one of the best things about this movie and I love what he brings to the story.

John Goodman has been a favorite of the Coen brothers going all the way back to this film in 1987 and continuing until today. This is not my favorite collaboration he has had with them but he is hilarious paired with William Forsythe as an escaped con who figures out his old buddy H.I. is hiding something. He is so great from beginning to end from breaking out of the prison in the rainstorm to the prison robbery with Nathan Jr. in tow. It really funny in the end when he and Forsythe simply crawl back into their hole to go back to prison.

This is a one of a kind movie made by some of the most interesting and talented film making brothers to ever get behind camera. As with most of their movies it offers wit that you won’t find anywhere else and a story that is unlike anything you have seen before. I love a movie that gets better the more you watch it and that is the case most of the time when you sit down to watch something made by the Coen brothers. This movie is without doubt no only worth your time but worth plenty of it and I would recommend it any day of the week to anyone.

 

NEXT MOVIE: Ransom (1996)

 

 

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