Like all (or most) Coen Brothers movies, Raising Arizona tells the story of a simple plan gone awry. We're introduced to the quirky nature of Raising Arizona through one of the funniest and most succinct opening sequences I've ever seen. Meet H.I. McDunnough (Nicolas Cage), career criminal and habitual recidivist, and Edwina (Holly Hunter), a law enforcement officer, who both fall in love in the most unorthodox, yet charming of ways. Living their 'happy years' together after H.I. gets out, Edwina decides that she wants to start a family, only Edwina is devastated when she learns that she's barren, unable to have children. Inconsolable, H.I. and Edwina fortuitously see the news of the 'Arizona quintuplets' being born and figuring that the Arizona's have too many babies to handle, H.I. steals one of the little critters for himself and Edwina.
Suffice to say that complications ensue when a couple of H.I.'s buddies break out of prison and other memorably oddball players come into the fold in typical Coen Brothers fashion. The dialogue is hilarious and razor sharp, there's a few interactions in there that are so rapid fire, yet every line is an absolute zinger "They were jammies! They had Yodas 'n' shit on 'em!", and so much else is going on. I admit it's not Shakespeare, but it's still pretty damn funny. It's easy to miss all the little moving parts, intricacies and nuances of Raising Arizona on first viewing too, I find this is true with all Coen Brothers movies actually, that they generally get better with repeat viewings. The camerawork is enjoyably creative and inspired, nothing looked or felt standard or perfunctory. The production designs fit the tone of Raising Arizona impeccably, and the offbeat score all come together beautifully to create something quite unique.
Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter are superb as the desperate wannabe parents who go to extreme lengths to become parents and to start a family of their own. Holly Hunter brings a ton of empathy and fire to her character and Nicolas Cage brings H.I. to life flawlessly, he's absolutely believable as the reformed white trash convict trying to go straight, despite his own criminal proclivities that are always boiling away in the back of his mind. Nicolas Cage's hair seems to be a character all of its own too, like it's a beta version of Ben Stiller's hair in Dodgeball.
The momentum lagged in a few places though and it got a bit too sentimental towards the end, but all in all, Raising Arizona is still a wild, crazy and surreal movie to watch. Raising Arizona is a movie I revisit often too, it has a lot of the rewatchability factor going for it. Even though the ending was teetering on becoming too sappy and melodramatic for my tastes, it still ended with a suitably sardonic twist that I loved as well, it fit the tone of the rest of the movie perfectly. Raising Arizona is a funny, charming and enjoyable piece of 80s cinema that I think will endure the test of time, probably already has. Well worth it.
Written by - The Sentry - 28/06/2015