Raising Arizona


When a childless couple of an ex-con and an ex-cop decide to help themselves to one of another family’s quintupelets, their lives get more complicated than they anticipated.

The second film in my Coen Brothers retrospective, and again, it’s one I’ve seen before. Unfortunately it’s not one of my favourites and in my opinion, it’s one of the weakest films in the collection (out of those which I’ve seen). It tells the story of a criminal that’s constantly in and out of jail, Herbert ‘Hi’ McDunnough (Nicolas Cage), and his quest to have a baby with his infertile wife ‘Ed’ (Holly Hunter) which leads to them stealing a baby from a rich and famous local, who’d just had 5 babies. It’s a perfect set up for a screwball comedy and I wonder if my disdain for the film comes from a general lack of enthusiasm for this particular genre. It also doesn’t help that I found most of the characters fairly annoying – Nicolas Cage, for example, is an actor who I feel can turn in performances ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, and whilst he isn’t bad here, he’s not at his finest either. The Coen’s are experts at making stupid people and the decisions of stupid people feel real, but Hi and Ed stretch this theory a little too far here.

The supporting cast is made up of quirky characters, from John Goodman and William Forsythe’s escaped convicts, who are equal parts hilarious, and equal parts irritating, to a bounty hunting biker (Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb), who is a little bit too ridiculous. The script itself is full of original ideas, and some scenes are really great (the escape with the nappies and the bank heist), but as a coherent whole, I didn’t find the film overly enjoyable. Even the music from Carter Burwell, who I praised to the heavens for his work on ‘Blood Simple’ feels a little too quirky for it’s own good, stretching for that charming feel. There’s a lot of imagination at play here, and ironically after watching all of Wes Anderson’s filmography, this film feels very similar to some of Anderson’s work. Quirkiness and charm can only get you so far in my mind, and overall I’m not a big fan of ‘Raising Arizona’.

Next up is ‘Miller’s Crossing’, a film I’m a huge fan of and would certainly rank as one of the most underrated additions to the gangster genre.

Rating: 2/5

Directed By: Joel & Ethan Coen

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter, Trey Wilson, John Goodman, William Forsythe, Sam McMurray, Frances McDormand and Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb


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