IN THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR WITH THE COEN BROTHERS REVIEW: Next in this director’s marathon is “Raising Arizona,” which stars Nicolas Cage (National Treasure, Moonstruck), Holly Hunter (The Incredibles, The Piano), John Goodman (Monsters Inc., The Big Lebowski), William Forsythe (The Rock, Once Upon a Time in America), Trey Wilson (Twins, Bill Durham), Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb (Liar Liar, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective), Sam McMurray (The King of Queens [TV series], National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation), and Frances McDormand (Mississippi Burning, Burn After Reading). It is written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen (both wrote and directed The Man Who Wasn’t There, True Grit ). When an habitual robber named H.I. McDonnough (Cage) marries a cop named Edwina (Hunter), they start to yearn for a family. After several tries, they learn that Edwina can’t have children. When all hope seemed lost, they see a story on the news about a furniture salesman named Nathan Arizona (Wilson) and his wife giving birth to quintuplets. Seeing as how they have “more babies than they can handle,” H.I. and Ed decide to steal a kid and raise it as their own. Things get complicated along the way, however, as it will be a struggle to keep this kid and call it their own.
This Coen brothers’ film is a rather light one compared to the lineup I have in this marathon, being how it’s a comedy. On top of that, it stars Nicholas Cage, a man known for his crazy overacting. I had a good feeling in mind going in to see this and after viewing it, I will say that it is a lovable release. What this movie does that is great is present the viewer two characters where a story revolves around their issue and how they handle it in a funny way. Now, I wasn’t expecting anything A-rate, and I was right in my expectations after seeing it, but it was still an enjoyable flick. The acting was great with characters that have great chemistry with one another even if H.I. and Ed are complete opposites. Their struggles are what pulls this movie together, and I laughed quite a bit at it. John Goodman and William Forsythe were fantastic in this, and their characters brought some life to this picture as well, especially when they went around robbing places. The directing of the Coens in this was just about perfect, with blends of Jared Hess’s “Napoleon Dynamite” and any early Wes Anderson film techniques. Seeing as how this came out before any of those, I wouldn’t be surprised if they got inspiration from “Raising Arizona.” When talking about cons in this film, I have to refer back to “Blood Simple” in that they are all in the script. Everything else was great, but the writing is where all the issues lie. I liked this movie. I thought it was funny and there are some memorable scenes that I enjoyed watching, like H.I. running with the Huggies, but there were times in this film where things slowed down. The beginning sparks this adventure, lighting it off awesomely. I enjoyed the narration and many jokes that came with it. Once H.I. and Ed got around to stealing the baby, however, the jokes became more stringed out. I didn’t laugh much in the second act as scenes began to drag and the one thing the story had going for it wasn’t holding much sustenance (H.I. and Ed’s conflict). This movie got to be all over the place by the time H.I. and Ed took the baby, resolving one conflict and having no where else to go in finding another (besides them trying to keep the baby, which was a bit bare-boned). Once Leonard Smalls (Cobbs) was introduced, that’s where things became very odd. I laughed at certain parts with his character, but there wasn’t much of a backstory with him or his true purpose of being there, other than to collect a reward. Another problem I found was the ending. I don’t want to spoil it if you haven’t seen it, so without doing so I will say that it became clichéd. In the real world, the resolution that happened would have never happened the way it did. I did get a good laugh out of it though. In the end, I thought that this was a lovable picture that I will surely revisit again for good times, but there are still a lot of issues that are in the writing, so it isn’t the greatest Coen brothers release. FINAL SCORE: 83%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: