Eye For Film >> Movies >> Raising Arizona (1987) Film Review
One must try hard in order to enjoy a film that has no serviceable plot, no characters other than relentless stereotypes and a narrative that is far too random and free-spirited. Raising Arizona is no exception.
The plot goes like this: H.I. McDonnough (Nicolas Cage) is a loser. He is in and out of jail like a yo-yo and becomes rather friendly with mugshot photographer, Edwina (Holly Hunter). They marry and try for kids, but she is "barren". So they steal a baby from Mr and Mrs Arizona, a rich local couple, who have quintuplets. Things go well for a couple of hours, until McDonnough's cellmates show up demanding a safe haven.
Mr Arizona is made an offer by a straight-from-hell biker that if the baby is found the biker will be paid 50 grand. At this point, the plot has become so messy and unthought out, it's downhill all the way.
An important ingredient for most movies is that they keep one foot in reality. Too many events in Raising Arizona are so ludicrous and out of place that they contradict the requirements of almost any genre. For example, take a look at the chase scene after McDonnough robs a convenience store. He is running on foot while the police car races after him. A cop leans out the window and fires zillions of rounds in a totally irresponsible and highly dangerous manner. Any of those bullets might have hit innocent bystanders.
It's also unlikely that a stone-faced, female prison officer would marry a repeat offender and concoct a plan to steal a baby.
If you thought Pearl Harbor was padded at 188 minutes, then a heavily padded 90 minute Arizona must have deep faults. Frances McDormand's character is amazingly pointless, adding nothing to the plot, and the actor playing her husband is so annoying, he could have a job in hell.
Not all is lost. There are one or two funny moments. John Goodman and William Forsythe's jailbreak is so bizarre, it's the kind of thing you show people to watch their reactions, and Randall "Tex" Cobb blowing up a rabbit with a grenade raises a smile in me, even though, as an animal lover, it shouldn't.
I imagine the Coens thought if every character were really stupid, the movie would be hilarious. Wrong!