Hello and welcome back! I know it has been far too long since my last reviews (writing, not posting) and it feels good to get back at it. Today, I will be breaking down the penultimate film in the Summer Film Challenge 2012. If you have missed any of the reviews so far, you can check them all out at the links on Ryan’s page.
The second work of my Coen Double-Feature, and by far the funniest film of the SFC12, was one I saved for the very end. Taking a giant geographical step from their typical locale, the Brothers Coen tackle one of the most outrageous scenarios ever put on screen. Oh, and Nicholas Cage is in it…..So, without further ado, here is my review of Raising Arizona.
Simply put, this film is hilarious! It is an outrageous Rumpelstiltskin-esque tale of a barren southwestern couple (former Cop and Robber) who decide that the best way to get a child is to steal one of the local furniture king’s quintuplets (Nathan Jr, we think). Through a long and increasingly complicated set of circumstances, an all out race for the kid begins that leaves a wake of destruction, hilarity, and Huggies on the highway behind it.
Staring the typical Coen cast – Francis McDormand, John Goodman, Warren Keith, Holly Hunter, and M. Emmet Walsh – the film drips of the Coen humor styling. They have a knack for taking some extraordinary scenario, telling the story in an outlandish manner, and yet hitting on some deep human emotions and desires. Holly Hunter absolutely nails the role of wanna-be-mom who simply cannot have children, and through her overwhelming desire and the actions of her husband and the reactions of the Arizona’s, we get a glimpse into the what normal (non-Coen) marriages are like. We see what love is and how far people are willing to go for it. All to the greatest chase theme in history! 🙂
And, believe it or not, Nicholas Cage is really GOOD in this film! I do not know what has happened over the past couple of years that has so trainwrecked his reputation but having gone back now over the past two SFCs and watched his early work, I have to say that I am becoming a fan. I know he has done some junk in the past couple of years (Bangkok Dangerous, Drive Angry, Season of the Witch) but go back and watch him in this movie and in Adaptation and tell me the man cannot act.
However, I did note a hilarious sort of precognition about the career of our favorite National Treasure strewn throughout the film. I swear that Cage has a dream in this movie in which he sees himself 20 years in the future playing the Ghost Rider. And I swear I don’t know how the Coens did it, but they managed to create a shot of Cage waking up from that dream which perfectly matches the one later used in his ironically appropriate film, Next (0:45). It doesn’t really mean anything, but I found it hilariously accurate in its prediction of Cage’s career.
Back to this film, really all I can say is go out and watch it. The writing is hilarious, the cinematography beautiful, the acting spot on, and the score (as previously mentioned) riotously funny. It says a lot about love and the sort of maternal/paternal feeling in all of us, while simultaneously critiquing how hard we try to get it all right. And ultimately it is a movie about how marvelously humorous life is when we step back and see how seriously we take it sometimes. If for no other reason, see this film because it is beautiful, tragic, hilarious, bizarre, and heartwarming all rolled up into a nice, neat, Coen Bros-stamped package of goodness.
BOOM! Second to last film review of the Summer Film Challenge and (unlike Ryan) it gets a perfect score. As of right now, I am not sure when (or if) a podcast will be attached to this post, but if we are able to put one together, you can expect the link at the end whenever we get that done.
[Update! Here is our podcast FINALLY!!!! Ryan and I talk about this hilarious movie, My Man Godfrey, and Adam Sandler! What’s not to love!!!?!?!?!?!??!]
Welp, we are onto the final stretch of the Summer Film Challenge 2012. It has been a long and wonderful road but all good things must come to an end sometime, and what better place to (kind of) end than with the directorial debut of one of the greatest film writers of our time. So, please join me soon for the final film review of SFC12 – Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York.