#36 Raising Arizona

Raising Arizona (1987)

Dir: Joel Coen

Um… In my review of ‘Gone Baby Gone’ I may have said that ‘child abduction is never a light topic’ in films… Oops!

‘Raising Arizona’ is a comedy by the Coen brothers, about Hi (an ex-con played by Nicholas Cage) and his wife Ed (a mug shot photographing policewoman played by Holly Hunter) who can’t have a child of their own. So, when they see a news item about a couple who have quintuplets (five babies) they decide they’ll just take one of the babies of their hands. This tricky situation is made even more difficult when two of Hi’s friends break out of prison and come to stay with the newly increased family unit.

I like the Coen brothers. My own brother introduced me to their work many years ago, getting me to watch ‘The Hudsucker Proxy’ with him one morning, and I loved it. Since then I have seen a few of their films, none of which I enjoyed quite as much as that one, though ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ did come close. This film is up there with those two for me.

‘Raising Arizona’ has a lot of the things I most enjoy about the Coen brothers films, with a great set up of the film in the first 10 minutes before the opening titles, that’s nicely accompanied by a clearly Coen-written narration. The film later includes a couple of incredibly madcap chases, and so many things happen that are simply off-the-wall in a way that I enjoy hugely.

So far, this is without doubt one of the best Coen brothers films I have seen, and if you watch it, you’ll be surprised by the very ‘Shawshank Redemption’ prison break scene, 7 years before that film came out!

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