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Worth A Look: 16%
Just Average: 7%
Pretty Crappy: 1%
Sucks: 3%

6 reviews, 64 user ratings

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Raising Arizona
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by iF Magazine

"It's weird, almost surreal fun."
4 stars

After their debut film, the thriller BLOOD SIMPLE, the filmmaking team of brothers Joel and Ethan Coen followed up with the radically different comedy RAISING ARIZONA. Maintaining the style of that earlier film, the Coens did a tonal 180 with their sophomore effort while also introducing a roster of quirky characters which would become a familiar Coen trademark in their later films like FARGO and THE BIG LEBOWSKI.

H.I. (Nicolas Cage) is one such character, part slack-jawed yokel, part poetic philosopher, and full-time petty criminal who specializes in knocking over convenience stores. His inefficiency as a criminal, not to mention his unwillingness to use bullets in his gun, repeatedly lands H.I. in prison. During his revolving door visits to the big house, H.I. falls in love with Ed, the policewoman who takes his mug shots on each occasion of his arrest. After being released from jail for the third time (before the film's title card has even flashed on screen), H.I. promises to go straight if Ed will only marry him. The smitten young lady agrees and the two promptly get hitched, setting up house together in an Arizona trailer park.

But when Ed's maternal instincts kick in, trouble befalls the young couple. They learn that Ed cannot have children, so the two decide to kidnap a baby in order to complete their "family unit". When the news breaks that local celebrity businessman Nathan Arizona, Sr. and his wife have recently become the proud parents of quintuplets, it seems an ideal opportunity to the slightly warped H.I. and Ed — Arizona has too many babies and they don't have any, so they might as well balance the scales a bit. Of course, once the couple snatches Nathan Junior and return home things start to get really wacky.

And that's basically what RAISING ARIZONA is all about — wackiness. From the eccentric ensemble of loonies and Nicolas Cage's deadpan, verbose narration to the wild camera work of cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld (who would go on to direct MEN IN BLACK and WILD WILD WEST), the film takes the Coen brothers' now familiar weird comedy to the extreme; unlike FARGO, RAISING ARIZONA sees no need to confine its sense of humor within the boundaries of reality.

A prime example of the film's mixing of style and zaniness occurs when H.I. decides that he's going to return to his life of crime. While attempting to steal a package of diapers, he winds up in a ridiculous chase involving the police, a pack of dogs, his pissed-off wife and a teenage convenience store clerk with a gun. The camera becomes a part of the action as it runs along with H.I. through random backyards, houses and supermarkets, and all the while hick music squeals over the soundtrack during the extended sequence. It's weird, almost surreal fun.

The film loses itself a bit in its final third with a sub-plot about some kind of Mad Max-type bounty hunter who's out to recover the missing Nathan Junior. Still, this is balanced by a welcome detour involving a couple of H.I.'s escaped convict buddies (John Goodman and William Forsythe). These two seemingly hardened criminals go all soft and motherly after kidnapping Nathan Junior themselves and taking the baby along on a bungled bank heist.

With RAISING ARIZONA, the Coen brothers gave us a taste of the full range of their offbeat comic talents and unruly enthusiasm for filmmaking. The film is not as refined as their later efforts, but is still a worthwhile entry in their quirky collection of work.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1055&reviewer=119
originally posted: 09/07/99 13:47:40
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User Comments

9/03/12 Courtney The Coen brothers one true comedy. Hilarious. 4 stars
11/18/11 Golden J. Williams Jr. Laughing all through this movie; did wonders for me. Cage and Hunter-what a team. 5 stars
7/02/09 brian Okay then. 5 stars
9/17/08 Stu Very funny (and sometimes poignant). The Coens rock. 4 stars
10/23/06 R.W.Welch Inspired lunacy. 5 stars
8/22/06 Sepi53 nice suprisingly good film 4 stars
2/18/06 VC so weird so funny 5 stars
2/04/06 Kankasaur clever and kooky Coens' classic 5 stars
8/19/05 Indrid Cold A little out of control in places and not wall-to-wall hilarious, but still very memorable. 4 stars
7/12/05 Jake This is a wacky film with a bizarre, ironic and hilarious sense of humor! 5 stars
1/27/05 Charlie Hilarious? Extremely Entertaining! 5 stars
10/01/04 Daveman Despite the maudlin final reel, it's simply bursting with ideas, wit and imagination. 5 stars
7/26/04 MyGreenBed One of the great comedies in movie history (with After Hours and Take The Money And Run). 5 stars
6/14/04 T. Maj Whimsical classic--the Coens' best film 5 stars
6/10/04 Kevin Farkas It doesn't get any funnier or more fun than this! 5 stars
6/10/04 jason nimtz 1 stars
3/12/04 James Kustes One of the Coens' best 5 stars
2/09/04 HorrorScribbler Would you buy furniture from a store called Unpainted Huffheinz? 5 stars
11/21/03 adguy If you don't like this movie, you must have a panty on your head. 4 stars
6/22/03 cochese Another "classic" I cant love. Is it just me? 2 stars
6/19/03 John Aster Habig classy stab at white trash cliches but not as great as O Brother 5 stars
5/16/03 George Jung People who hate this movie can suck diseased monkey cock...or a cock of some kind...I guess 5 stars
11/08/02 Stevo 'When there was no crawdad, we ate sand.' 'You ate whut?!'?!' 5 stars
9/30/02 hoboe joe i agree with Erik 1 stars
9/29/02 Charles Tatum Your'e a flower you are 4 stars
9/10/02 Francofile This one sticks in your craw, and tickles, for a good long time. Nic Cage's finest hour. 5 stars
9/07/02 Jim The Coen brothers' funniest movie 5 stars
9/07/02 Kyle A damn good surprise. 5 stars
7/10/02 Film Dude No Andrew, this was NOT A BAD MOVIE. FUCK, I hate you... 5 stars
3/05/02 Veronica Foxx aka The Raven-Haired Temptress Quirky little film that makes for an entertaining and delightful viewing. 4 stars
2/01/02 the scarecrow Do you hate every movie you see, Andrew Carden? 5 stars
11/17/01 Andrew Carden It's Very Rare When A Movie Like This Comes Out. It's That Bad. 1 stars
10/22/01 Soggy Bottom Boy One of the best comedies of the 80s, this one will live on as a classic! 5 stars
9/05/01 Butterbean A brilliant comedy 5 stars
8/08/01 moviegoer What else to say but, I LOVE THIS MOVIE! 5 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk This was my first Coen bros. experiences...it's hard to top. 5 stars
6/14/01 Law Firm of Dewey, Cheatam & Howe Coens are genuises. Period. 5 stars
3/17/01 hum if, like me, you adore the coens work, its awesome. for others... 4 stars
2/11/01 john d(THE DUDE) my second all time favorite movie 5 stars
1/14/01 John Nelson One of the funniest movies, ever!!! 5 stars
1/12/01 zippernek Son, there's a panty on your head 5 stars
12/03/00 Cristopher Revilla quirky but awesome action/comedy flick 5 stars
10/26/00 Liz S Funny, but not a movie i would choose to watch on my own time 4 stars
10/21/00 Hartman Nic Cage's best role ever. Holly Hunter's one of the best actresses around. Perfect movie 5 stars
10/11/00 Phil hilarious chase, hilarious movie 5 stars
10/02/00 Zeitgeist "Would you buy furniture from a store called 'Unpainted Hufheinz'?" 5 stars
8/10/00 Elvisfan Turn to the right 5 stars
10/19/99 The Bomb 69 classic, the late,great Tex Cobb was icing on the cake 5 stars
9/24/99 alyssa Great movie - love the music. 4 stars
9/15/99 Ratso The best comedy ever made. John Goodman is unstoppable. 5 stars
9/08/99 Haden maybe my favorite movie ever. If you don't like it-you suck 5 stars
9/03/99 Elizaveta Yodas and Shit! 5 stars
7/25/99 Josh Radde Magificent movie 5 stars
7/21/99 PhilmPhreak Son, you got a pantie on your head. 5 stars
6/27/99 Jim Armstrong Only incredibly anal and unimaginative people could dislike this movie. 5 stars
1/19/99 C Dub Exceptional comedy, great performances and of course, the phenomenal fight scenes! 5 stars
11/19/98 Emma brilliant 5 stars
10/29/98 Silent Rob A quirky comic extravaganza. You'll either get it, or you like Friends... 5 stars
10/19/98 Kwyjibo Classic Coens movie. Better than Fargo in my opinion. 5 stars
9/30/98 Nate Dogg EXCELLENT FLICK!!! I live near that motorcycle guy with the grenades too... 5 stars
9/28/98 {{{OZ}}} Great fucking film. It all went down for Cage after this. What a shame. 5 stars
9/28/98 Johny A true landmark comedy 5 stars
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  02-Feb-1987 (PG)



Directed by
  Joel Coen

Written by
  Ethan Coen
  Joel Coen

  Nicolas Cage
  Holly Hunter
  Trey Wilson
  John Goodman
  William Forsythe
  Sam McMurray

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