The Coen Brothers are such multifaceted filmmakers that they can take just about any genre of film, put their own weird twist on it, and have it coming out the other end a certified Coen Bros. film. Other times, they just sit back and let their brand of quirkiness do its stuff. Raising Arizona is probably the first example of this type of Coen film. Starring Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter, this tale of two would-be ne’er-do-well parents who kidnap a baby for their own couldn’t be more screwball if it tried, and it tries an awful lot.
The whole film just screams of great amusement during the filmmaking process; fun camerawork, a swift and fast-paced editing style, and a dynamite script that screeches and veers off the page at such a fierce pace that you can’t help but feel whiplash watching the film. Dialogue and action are mere tools used to perpetuate the humor at every turn, and while at times it can be seen that the film is trying too hard, it works most of the time. Nicolas Cage’s comedic performance is probably the finest he’s ever given, back before he became a caricature of himself. Cage and Hunter are the core of the film’s humor, along with the script, and both are just about as perfect for the material as can be.
Others in the 1001 Blog Club expressed their disdain for this one, generalizing it as just another weird off-beat comedy that didn’t work due to how weird it tries too hard to be. I disagree; it’s a different taste of film, no doubt, but once you get used to it it becomes a humorous farce of the highest order, with pitch-perfect performances and a solid script that dares to go where few comedies have the guts to. I liked this too much to write it off as weird or screwball, and while you may not agree with me (and the film itself isn’t perfect by any means), it still deserves a decent attempt from your attention.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10