Raising Arizona

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The Coen Brothers hit the comedy jackpot with their second film, a certifiably bonkers live action cartoon about crime, redemption and questionable family planning featuring a weirdo performance for the ages from a young Nicholas Cage. In Raising Arizona, incorrigible petty criminal Herbert I. “Hi” McDunnough (Cage) strikes up a relationship with big-hearted policewoman Edwina (Holly Hunter) during frequent mug shot sessions, and after his latest release the two get married and settle down to start a family. However, when Ed discovers that she’s infertile (“Her insides were a rocky place where my seed could find no purchase.”), and Hi’s criminal record renders them ineligible to adopt, Hi hits on the perfect solution: he kidnaps one of the newborn quintuplets of a local furniture magnate, figuring that the proud papa has plenty of progeny to go round. But the McDunnoughs’ rosy visions of domestic bliss in the Arizona desert are soon shattered by the arrival of two of Hi’s escaped prison buddies (John Goodman and William Forsythe) and a fearsome, hog-riding bounty hunter (Randall “Tex” Cobb), the ogre of this bizarre Southwestern fairy tale. Hilariously quirky in the Preston Sturges mold and a surprise box-office hit, Raising Arizona helped launch the careers of future Oscar winners Cage and Hunter, and proved that when it comes to cracked comedy, nobody does it quite like the Coen Brothers. (Dir. By Joel Coen, 1987, USA, 94 mins., Rated PG-13) 35mm