Monday, November 30, 2009

Raising Arizona (1987)

RAISING ARIZONA
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY: JOEL AND ETHAN COEN
WATCHED FOR: 1001 MOVIES TO SEE
OVERALL RATING: 5.25/10

When career criminal H.I. (Nic Cage) marries career policewoman Edwina (Holly Hunter) his life finally seems to be on the straight track. But when marital issues ensue following difficulty having children, the duo decide to kidnap one of the quintuplets from a local business tycoon.

Raising Arizona is the second film on our 1001 film trek, and I have to say in contrast with yesterday's The Apartment, I find myself lacking care. The farther I got away from Raising Arizona, the more I found myself annoyed by the characters, the opposite of what usually happens. That's not to say this film is without merits. It's oddball to the t, with fun performances from Hunter, Cage, and Goodman, but even then I never really cared. None of the character's are especially likable, despite the Coen Brothers' best attempts at making them emotionally attachable (primarily in Ed and Hi). The problem I think is that the Coen Brothers try to make them so absurd, they become almost like a morning cartoon.

Sure we find it funny when the coyote falls off the cliff or when Daffy fails once again, but do we really care? Not really... There is where I really struggled with Raising Arizona. I recognized the moments of humor far more than I laughed at them, I understood the emotional moments were occurring far more than I felt for them, and all the while I sort of watched with a faint disinterest. I love oddball comedies, but Arizona just felt odd. There's of course a certain testament to films of this nature. While I didn't much care for it, I wouldn't recommend against seeing it. It's that knowledge that no matter how much I didn't care for it, I recognize that there are plenty of people (just look at the IMDB) score that will love every moment of it.

Of course with the Coens behind the camera you never really know what to expect. You know their style is built around the absurd and off color, and as a visual film Raising Arizona has a lot going for it. The Coens wonderfully use lighting and visuals to make certain scenes all the more memorable. As well they get the very best out of their actors, regardless of the character's they try to play. It's for those reasons that I can see why the book 1001 movies to see placed it on their list, yet that doesn't mean I have to care for it.

While it has good intentions, and will appeal heavily to fans of cult/oddball films, I can't say I really enjoyed Raising Arizona enough to give it a passing grade.

6 better thoughts:

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Nic Cage does nothing for me, and I'm really over comedy from the 80s. I haven't seen this.

FilmFather said...

I've got a soft spot for this movie, becuase the first half is pretty damn hilarious, up to and including the extended chase sequence mid-film. But after that, the film does falter, like the Coens just threw down scenes of closure to get things done, ending with a pull at our heartstrings for the finale.

The Mad Hatter said...

@ Univarn... Remind me - do you like any of The Coen Brothers movies??

Univarn said...

@Andrew 80's comedies are a mixed bag. Some are good, lots of mediocre I think.

@Film I understand. Like I said I recognized more scenes as things I would find funny if I was the right viewer for that sort of comedy. Alas I just wasn't.

@Mad I really liked Oh Brother Where Art Though. As well I thought Intolerable Cruelty was great fun (though the ending was a letdown). As well I did enjoy Fargo for the most part :)

TheAnswerMVP2001 said...

The 80's has some of the better films overall. A lot of real classics, this one isn't one of them. I'd say the 90's had the better comedies.

blake said...

This wasn't a laugh-out-loud film for me either. I could tell where the Coens wanted me to, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

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