"How many Coen brothers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?"
Joel and Ethan Coen, those two wackily pretentious filmmaking bros, deliver with this wily down-South tale of trailer park couples, kidnapped children, redneck outlaws, and one very angry apocalyptic road warrior.The Coens have a habit of crafting high minded morality tales full of drab scenery and ridiculous symbolism. "Raising Arizona" is a break in form, and a new kind of film altogether. Everything is strange and blown out of proportion--the story seems to take place in an alternate reality where the heroes are just as goony as everybody else (if a bit more articulate}.
The picture is best when it slows down and opens up--the car chases are good, yes, and inventively filmed, but the real heart is in the way that Nicolas Cage fawns over his wife and kidnapped son, the way that unwanted houseguest William Forsythe compliments Holly Hunter on her delicious cereal flakes, and the way that hard hearted businessman Nathan Arizona melts at the sight of aforementioned child returned to its home.
As all Coen pics, this one is full of delectable details that make every shot something you've never seen before--the brothers rival Orson Welles as master frame stuffers. Tidbits are tucked into every corner of the film, serving as rewards for those patient enough to watch "Raising Arizona" multiple times.
But there's also a bigger picture, and that's what mass audiences will pick up on--the heartwarming story of a barren couple who so desperately want a child that they're willing to hijack one from a woman who has just given birth to quintuplets. The film examines their twisted logic with close, strangely approving scrutiny, and in turn makes the audience believe in and sympathy with these motley oddballs.
Armed with an experimental visual style and a great cast (the standout being a pre-action film Nic Cage}, the Coens serve up the goods with this wonderful film. There's something here for everyone, but the picture never feels strained--this kind of comedy comes naturally to the Coens, and I wish it was a side of themselves they explored more often."Raising Arizona" is strange and sure to please anyone who's willing to open up their minds (and hearts} to a supremely immature group of people grasping desperately for just a little bit of satisfaction and a piece of the old American dream.