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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> April 2001 >> Raising Arizona

Raising Arizona

Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
3 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
April 2001
IMDB Name:
Raising Arizona (1987)
Joel Coen
MPAA Rating:


There is hardly the slightest element of reality to Raising Arizona, the third movie by the Coen Brothers. The Coens have a gift for propelling characters to the logical extremes of their idiosyncracies. That gift turned Big Lebowski and Blood Simple into great films. The Coens populated Raising Arizona with quirky characters, but didn't pick quite the right quirks. The characters are given to overblown theatrics and bizarre speaking patterns, which is charming up to a point. Unfortunately, these characters are not impressive enough to overwhelm the stranger moments in the plot. The back half of the movie grates on the nerves as everyone runs around screaming at the top of their lungs. It is especially disappointing to see the talents of Nicolas Cage, Holly Hunter, and John Goodman reduced to such antics.

In fairness, Raising Arizona has moments of inspired comedy. The opening exposition is terrific filmmaking, and the movie never steps wrong until Gale and Evelle enter the picture. Hi's perspective on a life of crime is especially delicious. I also enjoyed bits like the bank customer who debates semantics in the middle of a robbery. Almost everything about Randall 'Tex' Cobb's character, the niche-market bounty hunter, is a hoot. I only wish the rest of the movie had lived up to the good parts.

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Copyright 2001 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.