Raising the Roof on Raising Arizona

Tuesday, September 24, 2013



RAISING ARIZONA

Directed by:  Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Written by:
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen

Starring:
Nicolas Cage
Holly Hunter
Trey Wilson
John Goodman
William Forsythe
Tex Cobb


Synopsis and Review:

I vaguely remember seeing this film ages ago (probably just a few years after its release), but couldn’t remember much about it, other than it was hilarious.  After viewing it again Wednesday evening, my hunch was right.

I’ve always loved Nicolas Cage in everything he’s ever been in, except for his recent string of bad movies.  I used to consider him to be one of the most versatile actors of our day, but sadly, like John Cleese and Katherine Heigl, he’s now become a caricature of himself.

Normally, I’m not a person who goes for baby movies, but this script was just so well-done, that I found myself pulling for the baby.  I guess that speaks to the talent of the Coen Brothers.  I know I adored O Brother, Where Art Thou?

The premise was that Nicolas Cage’s character, Hi, was a repeat offender, and on his first visit to the jail, he meets Holly Hunter, who plays Ed, who is the officer who fingerprints him.  When he finally realises he could have a happy life with her, this is his impetus for staying out of prison, having to listen to the boring stories of his bunkmate.

Once he and Ed are married for a time, she realises that she can’t be happy without a baby, so they begin trying.  And miserably failing.  Once they hear that the local unpainted furniture celebrity and his wife just had quintuplets and they joke in the paper that they have more than they can handle, that’s when Ed and Hi hatch a most ridiculous plan to steal one of the quints, and then deduce that since they had more than they could handle anyway, the parents wouldn’t notice.

This might have worked, if Hi’s former prison buddies, Wilson and Forsythe, Gale and Evelle, hadn’t broken out of prison and decided they would stay with Hi and Ed.  Eventually, Gale notices that the unpainted furniture guy has offered a reward for their missing baby, and that Ed’s baby looks suspiciously like the missing child.

Hilarity ensues when they take the baby to claim the reward for themselves.

My favourite scene is probably the one when Hi is on the run for holding up a convenience store for a package of Huggies, and then drops them while he’s running from the police during the huge chase scene.  Just as we notice Hi running, and the Huggies still in the middle of the road, Ed screeches in to pick up Hi, and before he closes the door, he scoops up the package of Huggies.  I laughed well into the next scene.

Unfortunately, I have nothing to nitpick about this movie.  It was well-acted (and you’d need a huge crowbar to pry Holly Hunter’s technique away from her), and certainly well-written.  Some favourite scenes:



Ed McDonnough: You mean you busted out of jail.

Evelle: No, ma’am. We released ourselves on our own recognisance.


Gale: What Evelle here is trying to say is that we felt that the institution no longer had anything to offer us.

 

Prison Counselor: Why do you say you feel “trapped” in a man’s body?

“Trapped” Convict: Well, sometimes I get them menstrual cramps real hard.




It was also nice seeing Tex Cobb in this movie, which I believe, if I’m not disremembering, was one of the first films he did just before reaching the height of his popularity in a string of similar character roles.  I’m also partial to his performances, because he’s also from Nashville.  Aside from Reese Witherspoon and Jamie Denton (Desperate Housewives), it’s nice to see Nashville actors make good.

If you haven’t had a chance to see this very awesome movie, then take a trip to Netflix and watch it right now.  No, right NOW.  GO!  Did I give you permission to get a snack??  GO RENT THE MOVIE NOW!