3353. Raising Arizona (1987)

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7.8 Brilliantly wacky
  • Acting 7.8
  • Directing 7.9
  • Story 7.7
  • User Ratings (0 Votes) 0

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter, John Goodman

Director: Joel Coen

Running Time: 94 mins


Raising Arizona is an American film about a newlywed criminal and police officer who, after discovering that they cannot have a child, decide to steal one of a recently-born set of quintuplets.

Directed by Joel Coen and written alongside his brother Ethan, this earlier entry from the now-legendary filmmaking duo is also one of their most entertaining, featuring the brothers’ ever-irreverent style of dark humour alongside a pleasingly wacky atmosphere and a collection of energetic performances that make Raising Arizona a heap of fun from start to finish.

Raising Arizona is a movie that really works its magic from the very first second. The opening ten minutes alone are a masterful display of character introductions and story set-up, combining deliriously funny comedy with the first inklings of the Coen Brothers’ classic dark drama.

From the beginning, leads Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter are on excellent form, giving fantastically zany performances that immediately show how light-hearted and wacky the rest of the film is going to be. That means, when the story eventually comes to the slightly darker moments, you’re not uncomfortable laughing away at what you’re seeing unfold on screen.

As things rapidly unravel after the pair kidnap a child for their own, the movie becomes more and more off-the-chain, with fantastic rapid pacing and quick-fire gags that make Raising Arizona an endless barrage of laughs.

Complete with equally hilarious side characters that, while never central to the story, are always a welcome addition to the craziness unfolding before you, the movie is almost always on point, never slowing down for a moment as it ramps up more and more towards a brilliant finish.

There are times when Raising Arizona is maybe a little too lightweight for its own good, perhaps lacking the biting edginess that makes many of the Coen Brothers’ best films such classics. But that said, it’s a film that’s an utter joy to watch regardless of how silly it is, with great humour, performances and a fun story tinged with darkness throughout. So, that’s why I’m giving Raising Arizona a 7.8 overall.

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About Author

The Mad Movie Man, AKA Anthony Cullen, writes articles and reviews about movies and the world of cinema. Since January 1st, 2013, he has watched and reviewed a movie every day. This is the blog dedicated to the project: www.madmovieman.com