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USA 1987
Directed by
Joel Coen
90 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Raising Arizona

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 humorous, the characters engagingly outrageous, the dialogue snappy, the directing dynamic with well-executed stunts such as a fun car chase involving a pack of Huggies although some may find the dream sequence resolution a little too soft relative to what has gone before.

To-be Coen regulars, Goodman and Frances McDormand, the latter who, like M.Emmet Walsh who appears as the chatty inmate in the prison machine shop had been in the brother’s debut film, Blood Simple (1984) are a hoot as is Sam McMurray as H.I;s boss.




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