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Raising Arizona
USA 1987
Directed by Joel Coen
Running time 90 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars


The Coen brothers’ second film is a clever romp through the trailer trash milieu that provides such a rich source of comedy for American film, albeit rarely with a comparable degree of tongue-in-cheek snap, crackle and pop.

Nicolas Cage, in the kind of role that he does well, plays the good-natured but dim-witted career petty criminal, H.I. McDunnough, who with his infertile cop wife, Edwina (Holly Hunter, also in fine form), steal one of baby quintuplets born to the proprietor (Trey Wilson) of Unpainted Arizona, a budget furniture megastore, and his fertility-drug enhanced wife. All is well until a couple of H.I.'s old cell-mates (John Goodman and William Forsythe) turn up and a bounty-hunter (Randall "Tex" Cobb) from hell comes looking for the infant.

As was to become characteristic of the Coens, the plot to Raising Arizona is wackily inventive and blackly humourous, the characters engagingly outrageous, the dialogue snappy, the directing dynamic and the film well-made with great production design, including here well-executed stunts including a fun car chase involving a pack of Huggies. To-be Coen regulars, Goodman and Frances McDormand, are a hoot whilst J. Emmett Walsh from the brother’s debut film, Blood Simple, has a small role.

 

 

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