#16 Raising Arizona

#16 Raising Arizona
Year: 1987
Director: Coen Brothers
MPAA Rating:  PG-13 
Epic Co-stars: Holly Hunter, John Goodman
Running Time: 94 mins
Cage Time: ~95%
Cage Kills/Deaths: 1/0
Cage Flip-outs: 2
Skyler's Review: There are two completely different ways of looking at this film, so I'm going to review it both ways. 

Deep version:
The theme of this movie is "second chances." H.I. (played by Nicolas Cage) is a man that is in a bit of a situation. He has cried wolf so many times by breaking the law on petty crimes, that he now has a reputation as being a career criminal. Never mind that he would never hold up a store with live ammo (holdups were the only way of life he knew), if you are booked into jail enough times, society doesn't give you much benefit of the doubt anymore.

As we have blogged before, educators were so inspired by Nic's portrayal of child rearing that he made the cover of a Serbian textbook.

When H.I. decides to go straight for the lovely Holly Hunter (a police officer), it seems as if maybe he has been given a second chance. They can't conceive, so she asks H.I. to steal a baby. Of course he will do it, he is a criminal, right? H.I. has reservations, but he becomes a kidnapper anyway.

Enter a ominous biker bounty hunter. The bounty hunter represents H.I.'s past which is haunting him: they couldn't adopt because of his dark past. So what do you do when your past is haunting you? You can fight it and try to come out the victor with freedom and new-found trust as your prize. Or you can accept your fate and retreat back into your demons; imprisoned by fear and past carelessness.

Nic's face says more about the realities of child rearing in this frame than the entirety of the textbook. (Why they didn't use this picture instead is beyond my understanding.)

Shallow version:
How much nudity was in this movie? None. A woman is jumping on a man with passion when he enters home. Both are fully dressed. Later, H.I. is cleaning up his room at home to set a good example for the baby, but he finds a risque magazine and hides it. There is no nudity on it but I think it may show a woman in her underwear. H.I.'s boss tries to encourage him to participate in a wife swap, but this never materializes.

Nic Cage has a funny mustache on the whole time, and his hair is really messed up. That's funny stuff. A bunny is exploded (it does not go into a box). There are car chases; cigar smoking takes place a few times.

Nicolas Cage felt squashed by the Coen brothers for not letting him portray the role the way he wanted. It was like taking his mustachio'd ideas, throwing them on the floor, and jumping on them.

There are some funny jokes and some good slapstick stuff here and there. I just wish that Nic Cage got to really portray his character the way that he wanted to. Cage is an artist, but the Coen Brothers pulled rank and clipped the man's wings (not his hair). That is why Cage went on record saying "Joel and Ethan have a very strong vision and I've learned how difficult it is to accept another artist's vision. They have an autocratic nature." Next time, Nic, don't accept another artist's vision: inject your own. The movie was pretty good, but I can only imagine how many more flip outs could have been tied into this movie.

Movie quotability:
  • "He don't know a cuss word from Shinola."
  • "This here's the TV.  Only 2 hours a day... of course educational or football so he doesn't loose appreciation for the finer things."
  • "What are you kiddin'?  We got us a family here!"
  • "I don't know they were jammies, they had Yoda's and shit on 'um!"
  • "You're young and you have your health. What do you need with a job?"
Plot Holes:

  • Yeah right, this plot puts holes in you!
  • The scene where he has dinner with his boss is a little too similar to the scene in Vacation when the Griswolds stop to visit uncle eddie.

!Stayed in the Cage!


Steve M said...

Very thoughtful "Deep version" review Skyler. I can see what you're talking about, but I'm afraid that my view is more in line with "Shallow version", though I have my doubts that Cage could have improved it any if he were given free rein.

Trying to point out plot holes is definitely pointless, though double barrel shotguns that can be fired 4 times without reloading and revolvers with 9 shots tends to make me not take anything seriously which means I'm not looking for or interested in deeper meanings and symbolism. It wasn't the worst Cage movie, but I was glad to see it was only an hour and a half long the two times I paused to see how much more I had to endure while locked away in a room that had warmed up to 80F and 60% humidity.

KaBluie said...

#34 Raising Arizona (1987) Starz Encore On Demand I've seen this one many times. It is Nicolas Cage's best movie.

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