Raising Arizona Review

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With two Coen Brother films down, I decided why not a trilogy of Coen Brother film reviews to celebrate the release of their latest project, Hail, Caesar! Thus I decided to choose an underrated gem (Inside Llewyn Davis), their most popular film (The Big Lebowski), and a film I personally feel conflicted about, Raising Arizona. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty to love and soak in from the insanity that is this film, examples of this being Holly Hunter who is great, Trey Wilson who basically steals every scene he’s in, the character of Leonard Smalls, and William Forsythe who manages to steal scenes from the legendary John Goodman. I must also include the way this film is shot is mystifying as it switches from an odd Sam Raimi type pov to feeling like an action film in matter of seconds when its actually a warming dark comedy. And lastly, the comedy in this film is mostly great but because the film goes to such an extent in order to try and not be cohesive in tone and character actions as you watch Raising Arizona a multitude of questions spur in your head, answers which you’ll never get the answer too. Is Nicolas Cage clairvoyant?, What does the tatoo mean?, Why is an aggressive of a dude that looks like a cross between Ghost Rider and Mad Max in this film?, What is going on most of the time? Maybe that last one could be applied to many of the Coen Brothers’ films, but with ambiguous films like a Serious Man or The Big Lebowski you can always go back, re-watch them and find something that will add to your viewing experience and help you comprehend the film even more, whereas in the case of Raising Arizona all the things I mentioned above simply feel like curious maddening easter eggs the Coens decided to  put in there to justify elements of the plot except they don’t. Instead it all feels out of place and with the constant change of camera techniques you get lost in the film as you try to decipher what is really going on. Then there’s Nicolas Cage which serves his purpose as a lovable convict but doesn’t really blow you away with his acting abilities in the film, the same goes for Goodman who has a very small role and is constantly overshadowed by Forsythe. But, then again there are so many things to like about the film such as witty lines to remember, the insane chase sequence involving an immense variety of character, Glen, and this randomly placed scene where we can observe John Goodman and his partner crawl out of the ground in a stormy night. If I had to describe it, it would sadly have to be as the Coen Brother’s sub-par True Romance and with that said I must conclude my review before torches appear at my window now that I’ve admitted to not loving Raising Arizona like the rest of the world. Raising Arizona ultimately receives a 65 out of 100 for being a muddled mess with shimmers of brilliance that transcend the film itself.

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