Today I watched the Coen Brothers’ Raising Arizona (1987)
Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter play the mismatched couple of an ex-con and a decorated police officer respectively who will do everything in their power to have the child of their dreams. But when they find out that they cannot have one biologically, they steal one from a wealthy local entrepreneur. Yes this film asks you to identify with baby thieves and particularly stupid ones at that. This fits into the more screwball of the Coen’s comedies with some seriously cartoonish performances and events.
The film is in some senses an exploration of uneducated white trash type individuals living in rural Arizona. It is also a tale of redemption for H.I. Mcdunnough, Nic Cage’s Character, who wants to go straight after living the life of a repeat offender. Cage has great comedic timing and uses a wonky brand of body language and facial expression to fit himself into the cartoonish nature of the film. It is the impeccable direction of the Coen Brothers that keeps everything consistent in the film, in the hands of a lesser talent this odd tale would spin out of control and may very well lack the heart and good natured themes.
Like all comedies, whether you laugh or not is highly subjective. But even though I find the film both funny and charming I cannot help but feel a little squeamish when it comes to many of the main characters actions. I mean they steal a damn baby from a wholly innocent family. That being said it still gives me a warm feeling inside when the sentimental ending rolls. 4/5