Raising Arizona

1987

Raising Arizona

Critics Consensus

A terrifically original, eccentric screwball comedy, Raising Arizona may not be the Coens' most disciplined movie, but it's one of their most purely entertaining.

91%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 53

85%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 89,019
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Raising Arizona Photos

Movie Info

Combining influences from Tex Avery cartoons to Sam Raimi horror movies to 1940s B-movies, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen followed up the stylish film noir of their debut, Blood Simple (1984), with this frantic screwball comedy. H.I. "Hi" McDonnough (Nicholas Cage) is a philosophical but slightly dim career criminal who has been arrested so often that he gets to know "Ed," short for Edwina (Holly Hunter), the officer who takes his mug shots. Hi takes a shine to Ed and promises to go straight if she marries him. She accepts, and they move to the Arizona desert, where Hi holds down a factory job and blissfully watches the sunsets with Ed. Their serenity is shattered when the couple decides that they want a child and discover that, as Hi puts it, "Ed's womb was a rocky place where my seed could find no purchase." (One of the film's many delights is Hi's unexpectedly flowery dime-novel narration.) Ed goes into a severe depression until she sees an item in the news. Nathan Arizona (Trey Wilson), owner of a chain of unpainted furniture stores, has become the father of quintuplets, and he and his wife joke that they now have more children than they know what to do with. In what seems like a perfect "helps you, helps me" situation, Hi and Ed kidnap one of the Arizona infants, figuring that they'll have a baby and the Arizonas will have less of a burden. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Cast

Nicolas Cage
as H.I. McDonnough
Trey Wilson
as Nathan Sr.
T.J. Kuhn
as Nathan Jr.
Lynne Dumin Kitel
as Florence Arizona
Lynne Dumin Kitei
as Florence Arizona
Mary Francis Glenn
as Payroll Cashier
Peter Benedek
as Prison Counsellor
Warren Keith
as Younger FBI Agent
Charles "Lew" Smith
as Nice Old Grocery Man
Sidney Dawson
as Ear-Bending Cellmate
Richard Blake
as Parole Board Chairman
Troy Nabors
as Parole Board Member
Mary Seibel
as Parole Board Member
John O'Donnal
as Hayseed in PickUp
Ruben Young
as `Trapped' Convict
Dennis Sullivan
as Policemen in Arizona House
Dick Alexander
as Policemen in Arizona House
Rusty Lee
as Feisty Hayseed
James Yeater
as Fingerprint Technician
Bill Andres
as Reporter
Richard Alexander
as Policeman in Arizona House
Carver Barnes
as Reporter
Margaret H. McCormack
as Unpainted Secretary
Bill Rocz
as Newscaster
Mary F. Glenn
as Payroll Cashier
Jeremy Babendure
as Scamp with Squirt Gun
Bill Dobbins
as Adoption Agent
Ralph Norton
as Gynecologist
Henry Tank
as Mopping Convict
Frank Outlaw
as Supermarket Manager
Todd Michael Rogers
as Varsity Nathan Jr.
M. Emmet Walsh
as Machine Shop Ear-bender
Robert Gray
as Glen and Dot's Kid
Katie Thrasher
as Glen and Dot's Kid
Derek Russell
as Glen and Dot's Kid
Nicole Russell
as Glen and Dot's Kid
Zachary Sanders
as Glen and Dot's Kid
Noell Sanders
as Glen and Dot's Kid
Cody Ranger
as Arizona Quint
Jeremy Arendt
as Arizona Quint
Ashley Hammon
as Arizona Quint
Crystal Hiller
as Arizona Quint
Olivia Hughes
as Arizona Quint
Emily Malin
as Arizona Quint
Melanie Malin
as Arizona Quint
Craig McLaughlin
as Arizona Quint
Adam Savageau
as Arizona Quint
Benjamin Savageau
as Arizona Quint
David Schneider
as Arizona Quint
Michael Stewart
as Arizona Quint
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News & Interviews for Raising Arizona

Critic Reviews for Raising Arizona

All Critics (53) | Top Critics (9)

  • Raising Arizona is no big deal, but it has a rambunctious charm.

    Jan 14, 2013 | Full Review…
  • To their old fascination with Sunbelt pathology, to their side-winding Steadicam and pristine command of screen space, the Coens have added a robust humor, a plot that keeps outwitting expectations and a...dollop of sympathy for their forlorn kidnapers.

    Mar 13, 2009 | Full Review…
  • The cartoon vision of southwestern tackiness doesn't cut very deep, but the mise-en-scene is packed with clever clutter.

    Nov 6, 2007 | Full Review…
  • While film is filled with many splendid touches and plenty of yocks, it often doesn't hold together as a coherent story.

    Nov 6, 2007 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Starting from a point of delirious excess, the film leaps into dark and virtually uncharted territory to soar like a comet.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Like Blood Simple, it's full of technical expertise but has no life of its own.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 2/5

Audience Reviews for Raising Arizona

  • Jun 03, 2014
    Before he was "leaving Las Vegas", Nicolas Cage was "raising Arizona", although I wouldn't associate that film with this one sooner than a certain other bleak opus. Ladies and gentlemen, from the innovative minds of the Coen brothers comes a new crime thriller which will surely be grittier and more intense than "Blood Simple". ...You know, I satirize how surprised people may have been when they found that this follow-up to "Blood Simple" is a comedy, but as dull as "Blood Simple" is, this probably is the more intense thriller, and it's not even supposed to be a thriller. I mean, seriously, this seems to be the Coens' answer to the overtly gritty portrayal of Texas in "Blood Simple", because with this comeback to the Lone-Star State, they made a film for "King of the Hill", only more white trash and, well, ten years older than the series itself. Come on, I just can't be the only guy who doesn't think that this film's poser featuring the leads and a baby hanging out in big lawn chairs doesn't look as though it was animated by Mike Judge, although, in all fairness, everyone else might be thinking that Nick Cage is enough of a cartoon when he's not animated. Anyways, make no mistake, for as the title reflects, this film is not about the state through which Mexicans enter America, but rather the state which gets them out. Don't worry, people, because this film's Arizona jokes are a whole lot funnier than that, although it's all fun and games until it suddenly hits you that these are the guys who did "Blood Simple" and find that the fun goes, after a while of dragging feet, that is. Thoroughly clever, tightly clever and all around a whole lot of fun, this film's prologue segment really lets you know what to expect, as far as highlights are concerned, that is, and yet, at the same time, it shakes the momentum of the overall final product which ultimately fails to live up to its hook by being so overdrawn, and while that's where the excess peaks in this film which runs only about 94 minutes, there are other times in which storytelling drags its feet, or at least feels as though it does. The Coens really change things up from "Blood Simple" with this film, which is more reflective of the filmmakers' subtle tastes in high entertainment value which, to be honest, get to be too subtle at times, breaking many a moment of high color with quiet dry spells that are not simply bland by their own right, but drive a certain inconsistency into tone. Even flimsier at time in the grip on style, which has a tendency to overshadow substance with an obnoxious freneticism that might not exactly be helped by the obnoxious elements in substance. Just like a Coen classic ought to, this film thrives on somewhat unlikable characters, who are, in this case, a whole lot more well-rounded and colorful than the questionable leads in "Blood Simple", but still have their times in which no amount of fleshing traits out in the context of an over-the-top narrative can justify obnoxious aspects to the characters, if not certain set pieces that are just too hard to buy into. The Coens, as still-new filmmakers, get ambitious at times with all of the color, and they do so much so well, with only so many hitches, but when those hitches are hit, it becomes all but impossible to deny the film's greatest shortcomings: the natural ones, which see this film's story concept lacking in dramatic consequence for the sake of fluff. There's not much to the idea of this film, and no matter how entertaining the execution is, the more the film progresses, rather than keeping momentum going, all of the unevenness and overstylization leave you to gradually gain a firm grip on the inconsequentiality that secure the final product just shy of a rewarding status that it had the inspiration to claim, in spite of natural shortcomings. Still, the fact of the matter is that this is a very competent film that simply found its full impact lost in the wake of natural shortcomings that are themselves admittedly limited. It's too fluffy for the project's own good, and hardly probable, but this film's story concept, on top of being genuinely original in a lot of ways, is all but delightful, if inconsequential, with its potential as both an entertainingly over-the-top fluff piece, and a subtly clever portrait on crime and family. If nothing else does justice to such potential, it's Joel and Ethan Coen's efforts as screenwriters, who debut their now trademark wit that results in sharp dialogue, and humor that ranges from clever to just about hilarious, while characterization, in spite of its unlikable traits, is distinguished enough with that classic Coen eccentricity which plays a big role in crafting an interesting narrative. Even as screenwriters, the Coens make their share of mistakes which ultimately render the final product unable to generally achieve the rewarding state that is occasionally manages to find glimpses of, but the film wouldn't cut through its natural shortcomings enough to come mighty close along the brink of rewarding if it wasn't for the Coens' being much better writers than directors, at least in this case, and still not being too shabby as directors. If nothing else is realized in the Coens', it's style, for although substance is often lost for the sake of such style, often to an obnoxious extent the Coens' plays on Carter Burwell's unique and colorful score, Michael R. Miller's snappy editing, and, of course, Barry Sonnenfeld's - as put best by Wikipedia - "flamboyant" cinematography break up slow spells with anything from charm to fierce fun, and yet, it isn't just style that goes well-handled in this messily paced, but generally tightly directed film whose thoughtfulness graces this comedic opus with an uncommon sense of smart that could have secured reward value. When the smarts lapse, the natural shortcomings that inspiration could have overshadowed come to light, and the more the plot thickens, the more over-the-top things get, thus, the Coens betray their ambition about as much as they fulfill it, but the point is that ambition is done enough justice for the final product to border on compelling, with no small assistance from an endearing cast. The film also showcases the Coesn' talent at working with already talented performers, with John Goodman and William Forsythe stealing the show with their delightfully over-the-top supporting roles, while leads Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter carry the film, with dynamite chemistry and individual color that charm about as much as anything in this film which is nothing if not charming. Now, I wish there was more than just charm driving this film, which could have been more, not through its light concept, but through its inspired execution, but still hits enough with entertaining style and clever substance to endear just fine. In closing, uneven pacing and tone, and some obnoxious overstylization and characterization break down barriers of inspiration enough for natural shortcomings to hold the final product shy of rewarding, but not so shy that inspiration reflected in a unique story, hilarious and generally well-characterized script, stylish and clever direction, and thoroughly charming acting doesn't drive "Raising Arizona" as a fun, if overambitious major stage in the Coen brothers' development as distinguished and colorful filmmakers. 2.75/5 - Decent
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • May 23, 2013
    I'm backtracking through the Coen Brothers older films and while I had seen this many years ago, it is still a cult gem. This film feels as Hollywood the brothers would go and even with that statement, it's nowhere near a commercial film. The quirky characters are all there and it's a shame that Nicolas Cage and the brothers didn't see eye to eye, they are a match made in heaven. Holly Hunter is brilliant in a showy lead role and if it wasn't for Cages schmuck, she would steal the film. John Goodman is very funny in a supporting role that would grow to become a constant theme throughout the Coen Brothers films. The film may not have the quirky filmmaking that would grow with future films but it is a part of their great film selection and is right up there with the best. I hope Cage will reteam with the brothers at some stage and give us another great film like this cult classic. The film was avoided on first release and like most of the Coen films, it became beloved on home video and now DVD. Brilliant film, just crazy filmmaking, love it. 19-06-2017.
    Brendan N Super Reviewer
  • Mar 06, 2013
    Raising Arizona is my second least favorite Coen Brothers film (after No Country). I mean what was so hilarious about this, I didn't find anything original and I didn't laugh once. A couple cool scenes stood out like the chase, and the motorcycle, but I preferred the action to the comedy. This is coming from someone who would defiantly pick a comedy over an action. Nicolas Cage was well casted, along with the man Coen Brothers love Goodman, but some actors felt awkward in there roles. The brothers tried to make this feel like a stylistic B film, but it had none of the laughs a B film would have.
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Dec 09, 2012
    An oddball and strangely uplifting dark comedy with plenty of Coen's brothers famous trademarks and great performances by the cast. Some of the humor is a bit hit and miss though, specially towards the last chaotic segment where things just fall apart a bit. Still, very solid and entertaining while it lasts.
    Francisco G Super Reviewer

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