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Raising Arizona

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 10/27/98 00:06:08

"For most this is the Coen's 2nd best. I rank it higher. Only one higher."
5 stars (Awesome)

Unless you've been living in a cardboard box under a bridge since the 80's began, you'd know already that the Coen Brothers are pure directorial genius. The movie that laid that opinion as gospel was Barton Fink. I mean Blood Simple. I mean Fargo. I mean.. oh, to hell with it. All of them did. But Raising Arizona is the fat mama of the bunch.

Nic Cage was coming up at the time he took the role of H.I. McDonnough, an in-and-out of jail type who finds true love with one of his jailers, a woman called Ed (Holly Hunter). He'd yet to become the action movie/hair club for men posterboy he is today, and his roles were actually credible. Mostly. Ah, the halcyon days...

So anyway, H.I. and Ed wed, and the only thing they're missing is a child.

Ed is unable to have kids, being as her womb is rocky, and thus gives H.I.'s seed no place upon which to find purchase.

H.I. is unable to adopt, being as his past is rocky, and thus not the primo basis on which to allocate a man as father.

So the only thing left to do is to steal a kid. When they read of a family that just had quintuplets, Ed and H.I. figure that there's no way the parents could give them all the love they deserve, so H.I. snatches one and they raise it as their own.

At least until a few old buddies of H.I.'s. bust out of prison and decide that H.I.'s abode would do nicely for a little refuge, despite what the missus has to say about it.

Then comes the family who wonder where this kid came from.

Then comes the lone biker of the apocalypse.

If you haven't figured it out, this is a comedy. A damn fine comedy. It's also a nice look at hicktown Arizona americana, Coen style. The characters are individually hilarious, yet altogether real. They're certainly exaggerated, but all you need to do is drive down Route 66 a little while to find people who could easily be confused as those on screen.

Cage is great in the lead - A role that suited him perfectly and, sadly, a role we'll never see him go back to. He's goofy enough, vacant enough and, if you forget his body of work from 1995-now, talented enough.

Hunter is, as always, Hunter. She never waivers in style, pacing or talent, and always delivers just what's needed to bring a character that could be one dimensional in amateur hands into the fully flushed realm of thespianic brilliance.

With a support cast of John Goodman, Sam McMurray and Frances McDormand, the talent is all there, and the comedy is smart enough to satisfy the critics, while simple enough to keep any audience a-chuckling.

But the real star of the piece is the story. Fluttering from high slapstick to action/adventure to surrealism, there's something there for all tastes, and when it ends you wish it didn't have to. This is one hell of an entertaining few hours. There's absolutely nothing to gripe about, and you know I need no excuse to gripe.

If you loved Fargo, Raising Arizona wil be right up your alley. If you appreciated The Big Lebowski, well what are you waiting for? RENT THIS FRICKIN' FILM! And if you don't know a cuss word from shinola, well I can't help ya.

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