“Biology and the prejudices of others conspired to keep us childless.”
When a newly married ex-con (Nicolas Cage) and ex-cop (Holly Hunter) discover that they can’t have or adopt children of their own, they kidnap a baby (T.J. Kuhn) from a local furniture tycoon (Trey Wilson) and his quintuplet-bearing wife (Lynn Dumin Kitei).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Nicolas Cage Films
- Thieves and Criminals
While it’s not for every taste (Roger Ebert panned it upon its release, and it has a Metacritic score of only 55), Raising Arizona remains — in my humble opinion — a delightfully surreal and colorful comedy. Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter (both early in their careers) are perfect as the desperate childless couple: Hunter’s spontaneous expression of love for her new baby boy (“I love him so much!” she sobs) is classic; and it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Cage embodying “Hi” (who, as put so delightfully in Rita Kempley’s review for the Washington Post, “is a deep thinker, without the IQ to support his habit.”) Not everything about the film works, however. Many supporting characters — most notably Randall “Tex” Cobb as a greasy Motorcyclist From Hell — are too broadly written to be amusing, and there’s an over-abundance of slapstick violence. In addition, John Goodman and William Forsythe as Hi’s escaped-convict friends — who play an essential role in the plot later on — are only intermittently entertaining, and quickly devolve into stereotype. Nonetheless, for every ho-hum scene in Raising Arizona, there’s another hilarious one just up ahead — and this, combined with our sympathy for the surprisingly likable protagonists, make the film well worth watching.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
Yes. This early comedy from the Coen Brothers set the stage for their later films, and remains one of their most successful endeavors to date.
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)