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Crime, Adventure, Mystery, Comedy
IMDB rating:
Joel Coen, Ethan Coen


          Raising Arizona IMDb    Raising Arizona Wikipedia    Raising Arizona Soundtrack

Nicolas Cage as H.I. McDunnough
Holly Hunter as Edwina 'Ed' McDunnough
Trey Wilson as Nathan Arizona
John Goodman as Gale Snoats
William Forsythe as Evelle Snoats
Sam McMurray as Glen
Randall 'Tex' Cobb as Leonard Smalls
T.J. Kuhn as Nathan Arizona Jr.
Lynne Dumin Kitei as Florence Arizona
Peter Benedek as Prison Counselor
Charles 'Lew' Smith as Nice Old Grocery Man
Warren Keith as Younger FBI Agent
Henry Kendrick as Older FBI Agent
Sidney Dawson as Moses, Ear-Bending Cellmate
Henry Max Kendrick as Older FBI Agent
Raising Arizona Storyline: Recidivist hold-up man H.I. McDonnough and police woman Edwina marry, only to discover they are unable to conceive a child. Desperate for a baby, the pair decide to kidnap one of the quintuplets of furniture tycoon Nathan Arizona. The McDonnoughs try to keep their crime secret, while friends, co-workers and a feral bounty hunter look to use Nathan Jr. for their own purposes.
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A good movie in its own right, but also a working out of ideas that the Coens would continue to improve
If the Coen brothers' first movie, "Blood Simple," was the earliest example of their brand of nail-biting but thrillingly imaginative violence, "Raising Arizona" is the first full realization of their knack for wordplay. Several of their later works, notable "Fargo," would blend the two components in more or less equal measure, but here the dialect and dialogue are front and center. The supporting character played by Frances McDormand uses an imperative tone, with eyebrows raised in pre-judgment, to ask new mother Holly Hunter about the baby's future matriculation: "You are going to send him to Arizona State." She is not an exaggeration; the question marks her as a type familiar to anyone raised near the clannish land-grant colleges of the south and southwest.

Though this line is sufficiently believable, and though McDormand and Hunter prove their command of accents (not for the last time), there is of course a great deal of affectation in the way the Coens' characters speak. Yet it is not correct to say that the archaic poesy the Coens put in the mouths of countrified people is a pretension or a ridiculous jest. When Nicholas Cage's character substitutes "slumber" for "sleep," "ether" for "air," and "twain" for "two," he is speaking in a way folk really spoke once upon a time. His letter to his wife reads almost like a letter home from a Civil War soldier. There is a great deal of ridiculousness in "Raising Arizona," all of it intentional and some instances of it more successful than others, but the emotions of the characters and the language they use to express them are as heartfelt as they are playful.

Some critics have accused the Coens of punching down with their humor, but in "Raising Arizona" all of the comedy is the kind that puts the audience on the side of the desperate and downtrodden. The "hayseeds" in the local grange easily out-argue a pair of robbers (who are themselves sympathetic enough, in their turn). The only really dislikable person in the film is a relatively well-off factory manager, and it is he, not the man who lives in a trailer park, who shows himself to be a racist and a degenerate.

Coen brothers films are not known for social commentary, but "Raising Arizona" contains some light critique of society's treatment of individuals with convictions on their records. Nobody in the movie believes that prisons exist to rehabilitate people. A frequent offender opines in a marvelous opening monologue and montage that their purpose must be revenge. At the other end of the movie, the victim of the central crime bookends this idea by declining to press charges since "there's no harm done."

What doesn't work as well as the Coens' crackling script and characters are their action sequences. The editing is a little rough, which is understandable since much of the drama involves a live baby whom the director cannot actually put in harm's way. The introduction of a motorcycle-riding, grenade-tossing villain is funny at first, but when he starts talking (through a voice-stifling fake nose for some reason) he loses much of his appeal. Holly Hunter carries herself well as a twice-decorated police officer, a presentiment perhaps of Marge Gunderson in "Fargo," but she is given too little to do in the final set piece.

"Raising Arizona" is a very good movie in its own right, but in comparison to the Coens' later masterpieces it can also be viewed as a working out of principles and patterns that would take several more years to come to their fullest fruition.
"Okay, then."
After 'Blood simple.', the Coens took on the lighter side of (American) things, even if the elements of dreams and violence are still well-represented here.

Another perfect casting job here, with a terrific leading duo, played by Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter. The story may be pretty silly and over the top when you look at most of the details, but at the heart of it their is a sincere and endearing core of an unlikely couple trying to have a baby. Sometimes I wonder where they get their inspiration, but when I see Gale and Evelle emerging from the mud, I can't help but think of a Jewish influence: the bumbling golem twins? And what are they trying to tell us when Leonard Smalls turns out to have the same Woody Woodpecker tattoo as H.I.?

There are comedies, and there are comedies by the Coens. Mostly, I prefer the latter.

A big 9 out of 10.
then I guess I am telling you what you want to hear
H.I. "Hi" McDonnough (Nicholas Cage) is a philosophical but slightly dim career criminal who has been arrested so often that he gets to know "Ed," short for Edwina (Holly Hunter), the officer who takes his mug shots. Hi takes a shine to Ed and promises to go straight if she marries him. She accepts, and they move to the Arizona desert, where Hi holds down a factory job and blissfully watches the sunsets with Ed. Their serenity is shattered when the couple decides that they want a child and discover that, as Hi puts it, "Ed's womb was a rocky place where my seed could find no purchase." (One of the film's many delights is Hi's unexpectedly flowery dime-novel narration.) Ed goes into a severe depression until she sees an item in the news. Nathan Arizona (Trey Wilson), owner of a chain of unpainted furniture stores, has become the father of quintuplets. He and his wife joke that they now have more children than they can handle.

In what seems like a perfect "helps you, helps me" situation, Hi and Ed kidnap one of the Arizona infants, figuring that they'll have a baby and the Arizonas will have less of a burden. The Coens play the American Dream for farce, Hi (Nicolas Cage) and Edwina (Holly Hunter) attempt parenthood through kidnapping. With nods to cartoon slapstick, "The Road Warrior" (1981), "Doctor Strangelove" (1964), and Sam Raimi's horror films, and a script that mixes southwestern slang and polished locutions, the Coens extract maximum wackiness from their sly send-up of familial urges. From crude yet refined convicts Gale (John Goodman) and Evelle (William Forsythe) to blowhard father Nathan Arizona to swinging procreators Glen (Sam McMurray) and Dot (Frances McDormand), all the cartoony characters want to parent baby Arizona for all the wrong reasons. Cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld's sharp compositions, low camera, and manic "shakycam" shots showcase the Coens' energetic visual wit, particularly in a prolonged chase featuring dogs, cops, a "panty"-wearing Hi, a gun-toting convenience store clerk and a package of purloined Huggies.

Complete with carefully modulated over-the-top performances from the entire cast, "Raising Arizona" confirmed the Coens' place among the most distinctive filmmakers to emerge from the 1980s independent cinema
Incredibly funny and entertaining!!!
This one makes my top 5 comedy films list of all times!

I read some review where the guy said the cinematography was alright--whatever!

The music, acting, script and everything else in this film is SUPERB!

I am not a huge Nick Cage fan but he gets my vote for this film.

I mean....the lines in this film! "Son you got a panty on yer head" and oh God I could go on and on.

A 9.5 out of 10.

I loved it!

A million laughs
Just about every line in this movie is hilarious, original, quirky and quotable!!! I have seen the movie at least 40 times and every time I laugh out loud many times. The chase scene in the supermarket is very original, and the camera work from the point of view of the babies when H.I. is in the bedroom of the Arizona household deciding which critter to get is amazing. Cage and Hunter and every actor is perfect in the movie. One of the best lines is "We released ourselves on our own recognizance" when H.I. prison buddies break out of prison. When Edwina is driving back to pick up H.I. after he robs the convenience store, and she turns to Nathan Jr. and says "Everything's changed!", this is another sweet line, and I say this often to my husband and kids, when they question something not going their way. Raising Arizona is a cult hit for good reason, it is the cutest, funniest, sweetest movie ever made!
Pure silliness - Coen brothers style!
After the controlled excellence of Blood Simple, Joel and Ethan Coen unleashed the wackiness of Raising Arizona, one of their more accessible films, so successful at the time of its original release that the brothers were actually offered Batman (!) as their next project (as we all know, they passed on it and along came Tim Burton). In retrospect, the offer doesn't sound so ridiculous: Burton's take on the Dark Knight is as much a freak show as Raising Arizona, though it is more about the sombre mood than surreal humor, which is the Coens' most notable strength.

The absolute lunacy in this film comes in the form of H.I. McDunnough (Nicolas Cage), a convict who is absolutely incapable of doing any good whatsoever, and his wife Edwina, nicknamed "Ed" (Holly Hunter), a prison worker who married him after his latest stay in jail. The couple's biggest wish is to have a baby, but as it turns out nature - and luck - isn't really on their side. At this point, options are quite limited, and after learning wealthy businessman Nathan Arizona (Trey Wilson) has recently had five babies, they think: who cares if one of those kids "disappears" ? Apparently, a lot of people care, since H.I. and Ed have to deal with all kinds of insane individuals, from the Snoat brothers (John Goodman and William Forsythe) to a mysterious biker (Tex Cobb) who seems to have come straight out of Hell.

Raising Arizona is, in many ways, a typical Coen brothers movie, relying not on easy or direct laughs, but more on the overall absurdity of the situation, paired with some healthy Reagan-bashing (H.I. starts insulting him in the opening monologue). That the satirical aspect isn't forced, but manages to flow naturally with the rest of the craziness, is one of the film's strongest aspects, next to the fantastic dialogue ("Hurry up, I'm in a dutch with the wife!") and the inspired casting: Hunter and Frances McDormand, working with Joel and Ethan for the second time, are already at ease in the twisted Coen universe, while Goodman and Forsythe add the right does of quirkiness. The most impressive performance comes from Cage: still in his experimental phase (Wild at Heart was just around the corner), he is totally out of control in an edgy, brave effort whose wild energy is only a vague memory in his post-Oscar body of work. Cobb is good as well, but his character, who adds a more surreal touch to the movie's tone, doesn't seem quite at home here. The Coens have used the Hell motif in other pictures (Barton Fink first and foremost) to considerable effect, but in this case it looks more like an afterthought, albeit an entertaining one, rather than an organic part of the narrative.

Despite its occasional flaws, Raising Arizona is in fact a perfect film for Coen novices, its accessibility and mainstream appeal (it's got Nic Cage in it) being potentially more seductive than the casual yet beautiful brutality of Fargo.
Not a masterpiece but very funny
I'm not a die-hard Coen brothers fan but I've watched and enjoyed the majority of their movies. This being one of their early ones, it was neat to finally watch it. From the start, it's apparent that they're going for a much more slapstick and visual humour than their later comedies like 'The Big Lebowski or 'Intolerable Cruelty'. Nicolas Cage is surprisingly restrained in this early role playing a lower than average intelligence 'repeat offender' robber. For me, I found John Goodman to be the highlight of this movie. Not only does he get some of the best visual gags, it feels like he knows how goofy the movie is and is just having fun with the role. But really, the visuals are the highlight of this movie. Barry Sonnenfeld was the cinematographer (Who would go on to direct) has plenty of fantastic tracking shots and cameras attached to motorcycles that really helps the movie stay exciting and fun throughout. The humour has aged quite well, the only thing I noticed is that it had a rather cute ending compared to a lot of their later comedies. Still definitely worth a watch, even without Nic going 'Full-Cage'.
Hysterical, each time I see it
A lot of things come together to make this film highly enjoyable; acting, writing, music, pace, directing... It's over-the-top fun. It took me several viewings before it sunk in that the film's base story is about child kidnapping; which is an extraordinarily serious crime. But this film makes you enjoy every minute so it's easy to forget the seriousness of the base story.

While I'm not a fan of Nicholas Cage, I thought this was a perfect vehicle for him. Holly Hunter is always excellent, IMHO. Their attention to detail in crafting their characters was on point and thorough.

"Well alright then." :)
The best from the best
Raising Arizona has the best opening montauge possibly in the history of cinema. I have seen this movie about forty times and each time it gets better. It's the story of a useless repeat offender serial convict named HI (played brilliantly by a 23 year old Nicholas Cage) who falls in love with a police officer he keeps running into at central booking. After his final stint in prison HI decides he wants to settle down so he proposes to Ed while she's taking his fingerprints. They move into a trailer, he gets a job and they try to start a family. Unfortunately Ed is unable to reproduce and because of HI's checkered past the two are unable to adopt. As their relationship begins to deteriorate, a famous Arizona couple gives birth to five children. Ed and HI get the idea to kidnap one since the parents obviously have more then they can handle and what ensues is pure comic genius plus a country version of Beethoven's ninth symphony and a supporting role from John Goodman. Okay then. What can I say, I love this movie for the simple fact that the trailer they live in has more firearms in it then a small country and Nicholas' Cage's southwestern accent is to die for. Anyway two thumbs up, see this film.
An Outrageously Whacky and Delightful Quintessential From The Coen Brothers
After the Coen's triumphant debut Blood Simple, the Coens returned to pursue their career as two of American cinema's finest talents. Raising Arizona is one of the many films which established the Coen's universal talent, proving that their debut was not a fluke, but a film which marked the career of two of independent cinema's geniuses. I cannot begin to stress just how good Raising Arizona really is.

In tradition of the absurdity a Coen Brother film follows, Raising Arizona depicts turbulent chaos through quirky humour. Raising Arizona follows the adventure of a simple-minded, kind-hearted couple who are failing to have a baby due to their problematic circumstances. H.I. (played by Nicolas Cage) is an escaped convict, but he feels to have learnt the error of his ways while jumping in and out of prison for his harmless, yet failed hold-ups. He meets Edwina (Holly Hunter), a neurotic and somewhat overwhelming police-officer, who marries H.I. after he is released from prison. On finding that Edwina is infertile the couple op in for adoption, sadly adoption also fails due to H.I.'s prison record. So, the desperate pair resolve the matter by kidnapping one of a furniture tycoon's quintuplets. Havoc ensues.

Yes, Raising Arizona is loud, eccentric, sensational and overwhelming, but it all helps to make it such a remarkably entertaining film. It is rare that a film is able to balance such a variation in contrast around practically every element. The pure joy which can be gained when viewing this often turbulent, yet charming ride helps to personify cinematic enjoyment. Propelled by its fast-paced, character-driven script Raising Arizona does not stop for breathing space. Basically, The Coens set themselves a narrative target and they then let the film run on this "invincible fuel" of technical prowess. The free-spirited imagination and wit makes Raising Arizona an unforgettable experience.

The technical side of Raising Arizona is just as strong as its narrative. For example, the quick-fire, clean-cut, smooth editing gives the film a vibrant edge of insane comedy. The nifty set-pieces are highly creative too, designed with an expert knowledge of a comedic environment. I am a huge fan of slapstick comedy, which successfully blends tones of surrealism.

For an actor who is usually horribly wooden, Nicolas Cage gives -what I consider- his superlative performance. He shows understanding of the script, creating a character that is blissfully unaware of his surroundings, while still being emotionally complex. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Nicholas Cage brings an outstanding level of panache to his performance. Plus, there is a wildly lavish amount of chemistry between both Cage and Hunter.

Raising Arizona is an innocent film from The Coen Brothers, which remains something that almost anyone is bound to fall in love with. I cannot begin stress as to how much I recommend you watch Raising Arizona, no doubt you will be thoroughly entertained.
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