Raising Arizona (1987)

We figured there was too much happiness here for just the two of us, so we figured the next logical step was to have us a critter.

— H.I. McDunnough

Raising Arizona was probably my favorite comedy of theirs growing up. This was before I became the movie snob that I claim to be today. You know my track record with the Coen Brothers. Some times they could deliver absolute masterpieces and others are mindless pieces of dreck that would ever be put on celluloid. I believe that my previous love of this movie has waned a bit.

Convicted convenience store robber, H.I. McDunnough (Nicolas Cage) comes in and out of jail, because he wants to flirt with the officer that takes his mug shots, Edwina (Holly Hunter). After he gets paroled for the umpteenth time, he proposes to Edwina. They quickly marry; Edwina quits her job at the station, and the couple moves into a mobile home in the middle of the Arizona desert.

Things seem to be great, but Edwina desperately wants to have a child. The couple exhaustively tries to conceive without any success. Edwina learns that is barren. It devastates them. They try to the adoption without success, because of H.I’s long rap sheet.

They think their prayers have been answered when a news report reports about “The Arizona Quints.” Local celebrity Nathan Arizona (Trey Wilson) and his wife, Florence (Lynne Kitei) took fertility treatments to get their quintuplets. H.I. read is in the papers that Nathan was quoted in saying that the quints are a handful. The McDunnoughs come up with the idea of kidnapping one of the kids.

They break into the Arizona house while they are there and take almost all of them out of their shared crib. Some of the kids crawl away towards the door. H.I. hears that somebody is coming and leaves. He is scolded by Edwina to take one of the babies. He goes back to take Nathan Jr. (T.J. Kuhn Jr.) and raise him as their own.

Naturally, Nathan Arizona issues a $20,000 reward for his safe return. A bounty hunter that looks like he stepped off Mad Max, Leonard Smalls (Tex Cobb) takes up the slack that the inept police force couldn’t do. There is also H.I.’s cellmates, Gale and Evelle (John Goodman, William Forsythe) break of the same jail, Shawshank style. They come to the McDunnough’s trailer to spend the night, which complicates matters that the police will be after them soon.

There is blackmail, betrayal, kidnapping and redemption in this movie. I should feel like I did when I was a kid, but I didn’t. I understand that this movie was supposed to be over the top, but I think the Coens should have dialed it back a thousand percent. I still enjoyed the ridiculous action set pieces like the extended convenience store robberies with the barking dogs, the hand cannon and the Pampers, the fight between Gale and HI and also the climatic scene. Other than that, it was too much for me to handle.

Judgment: I can’t imagine enjoy this film, unless you want to make fun of white trash.

Rating: ***


About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on June 15, 2010, in 1987, Adventure, Comedy, Crime and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Good review. One of the Coen’s funniest films. It has the raw quality of Blood Simple and the outrageousness of Big Lebowski. Nick Cage is also great in a comedic role – and that has continued throughout his career.

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