Raising Arizona
directed by Joel Coen
(20th Century Fox, 1987)

Joel and Ethan Coen may be slightly insane. As evidence, I present Exhibit A, Raising Arizona.

There's a little bit of loony in the likes of Nicholas Cage, Holly Hunter, John Goodman and William Forsythe, all of whom starred in the film. The sanity of co-stars like Trey Wilson, Randall Cobb and Sam McMurray is also in question. But Joel, who directed the movie, and brother Ethan, who co-wrote it with Joel, must bear the bulk of the insanity stigma. Lucky for us.

Raising Arizona is a very odd film about a cop named Ed (Holly Hunter) and a robber named H.I. (Nicholas Cage) who fall in love and set up a private paradise in the Arizona desert. But once their salad days are over, they begin yearning for a baby to help fill the emptiness of their mobile home -- but, unfortunately, her womb is "a rocky place" where his "seed could find no purchase." In other words, no kids the old-fashioned way, no matter how much they practiced. So they decide to liberate one of the newly born Arizona quintuplets, chemically induced offspring of Nathan and Flo Arizona (Trey Wilson and Lynne Dumin Kitei).

But a baby changes things a bit. So, too, does the sudden appearance of Gale (John Goodman) and Evelle (William Forsythe), two escaped convicts who shared time in H.I.'s prison encounter group. To say nothing of the bearish, heavily armed and somewhat unsanitary bounty hunter Leonard Smalls (Randall Cobb).

To top it all off, the movie boasts some excellent, witty dialogue read by a cast who pretend marvelously that they're taking all of this seriously. Raising Arizona is a fun, offbeat way to pass 94 minutes ... much of which I guarantee you'll spend in laughter.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 25 August 2001

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