Raising Arizona (1987)

Directors and Writers: Joel and Ethan Coen


Edwina and H.I. are a young, married couple just starting out. Ed, short for Edwina, is a police officer and Hi, short for H.I., is a career criminal. Every time that Hi gets arrested, Ed takes his mug shot. They end up falling in love with each other and begin the “salad days” of their marriage. Naturally having children is the next logical step, but their world is shattered when they find out that Ed is “barren”. Just as their world is falling apart around them, they hear a story about the Arizona Quints; quintuplets born to a family aptly named Arizona. The young couple decides that the Arizonas probably have more than they can handle, as far as children go. Ed and Hi wondered why some can have so much, while others have so little. So the young couple decided they would just take one of the toddlers, and raise it as their own. Complete mayhem is what follows for the couple, when they are; hunted down by an evil bounty hunter/ black market baby seller, and a stellar cast of characters who also want the baby.


Raising Arizona is a delightful film, a gift from the Coen Brothers to us. The fun thing about this movie is that it seems like a tribute to the old cartoons like Looney Toons, Roadrunner, and Woody Woodpecker. The action and characters are very cartoony in nature, exaggerated versions of people who could be real. Every scene in the movie has a gag of some kind, one just as hilarious as the next. This movie is simply brilliant because it looks like realism, like many other Coen Brothers films, but has just enough formalism to make it interesting and outrageous. The narrative moves the story along and is so clever, and the dry delivery of the humor is a pure trademark of the Coen Brothers. This movie also includes one of the best chase sequences, when Hi decides to rob a convenience store. The chase just keeps going and building, revving up the excitement by adding more and more obstacles.

Raising Arizona has an amazing cast to play these quirky characters: Nicolas Cage as H.I., and Holly Hunter as Ed, with a supporting cast of: John Goodman, Trey Wilson, William Forsythe, Frances McDormand, Sam McMurray and Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb. Equally funny in the film are all the “real folks”. The Brothers use these real folks and their plain talk, to their advantage by making them responsible for some of the most memorable lines in the film.


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