I love listening to the How Did This Get Made podcast. Easily their favorite actor on that podcast is Nicholas Cage. He makes such insane choices in his films that he is an easy target to make fun of. And yet he commits so fully to each character that it is hard not to also love him at the same time. I was thinking about his career the other day and wondered what his first crazy movie choice was. A glance at his IMDB profile suggests that he has been doing silly films since close to the start of his career. But one of his most acclaimed early silly movie was Raising Arizona. I have never seen this film, despite being both a Nicholas Cage and a Coen Brothers fan. This is something that I decided to rectify at the soonest possible moment.
Nicholas Cage plays a man who robs convenience stores. But he seems to be very bad at robbing. At one point he didn’t even bring in a gun. He is constantly being sent back to prison, and he is always arraigned by the same beautiful cop. The cop is played by Holly Hunter who is the straight man to Nicholas Cage’s insanity. They fall in love and get married. However soon after they find out that Holly Hunter’s character is barren. They contrive to get a baby through legal means all to no avail. So they resort to an illegal route. A famous man who sells untreated furniture has a wife who has eight babies. Thinking that they had too many to care for them all adequately, they put Nicholas Cage’s prowess for stealing things to work for them by stealing one of the babies. This puts into motion a series of absurd events culminating in the baby getting stolen several different times and then having a shoot out for the baby.
I did have a little trouble following the mayhem. This is really early Coen Brothers, so their ability to put together an effective comedy is not in full effect here. I felt like they took moments and stretched them a little too far to the point where I was bored with a scene, but then they did the opposite with important scenes. It felt really herky jerky to me. However Nicholas Cage is so beautifully over the top with his crazy hair (long before he needed wigs) that the film is still worth watching in my opinion. Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter’s dynamic is really what saves the film for me. They seem to be made for each other. All she wants is a baby and he would do anything to help her achieve that dream. Their back and forth is so cute at times and devastating at others.
If I were you I would only watch this film if you are interested in early crazy Nicholas Cage. This is not a strong Coen brothers film, so if you are looking for that aspect, I would suggest for you to avoid it at all costs. It will be our secret.