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At the heart of this film is the timeless debate known as "nature vs. nurture": are we more a product of our genes, or of our environment? How much of an effect does our upbringing have on our likelihood to turn out as either a law-abiding member of society (a society which in this movie is of dubious merit, as represented by Hi's job and his unctuous boss) or as a criminal deviant from its norms?
The symbolism in this film is rich and evocative--while always contributing to the comedy. Note how often the adult characters cry and carry on like infants. Note the way the escaped convicts are "born" into the outside world. Note the marriage of a convict and a police officer, and the difference in their families visible in the brief wedding shot. Note the juxtaposition of milk poured over cereal with the infant's feeding bottle, as Evelle observes, "Ya don't breast feed him, he'll hate you for it later. That's why we wound up in prison." And note the frequent use of phrases such as "that's natural," as opposed to "you're not being true to your nature" or "mother didn't love me." As Hi observes, "maybe it's my upbringing, maybe it's just that my genes got screwed up, I don't know."
The quasi-biblical, poetical and aphorism-laden language the characters use in the-state-adjacent-to-Utah is both touching and funny. Every word of the film is a finely polished gem. Ed's little plan is "the solution to all our problems, and the answer to all our prayers.Read more ›
The dialogue is absolutely razor-sharp -- plenty of examples are certainly readily available in the reviews preceding this one -- and the camera work is wonderful, as well. I'd rank Raising Arizona a VERY close second to Miller's Crossing in a list of the Coen's best films. It is admittedly not as visually stylish as Miller's Crossing (then again, very few films ever made are), and the storyline is not as cohesive as Miller's Crossing, Fargo, or Barton Fink. However, the film is so full of verbal gems that it definitely ranks as the Coen's best dialogue writing effort. Cage and Hunter are wonderful, and John Goodman and William Forsythe are absolutely perfect as the Snopes brothers.
Admittedly, the DVD is nothing very special. All you really get is the more durable medium and a widescreen format. Some kind of "The Making of..." mini-documentary, or better yet, a commentary option with two or three of the actors, the director of photography, or ideally the Coens themselves would have been a priceless addition to the DVD.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This has been one of my favorite movies. The humor is original as well as the plot.Published 5 days ago by Chipper
Early Cohen Brothers; doesn't compare well with the GREAT later films. Sorry, but it is what it is.Published 8 days ago by PAUL MAHONEY
One of my all-time favorite movies. I grew up watching this movie with my dad, so maybe it's sentimental, but still I laugh OUT LOUD every time I watch this movie as an adult too.Published 11 days ago by Kelly
Classic, I didn't realize how many Huggies diaper placements were in this movie...Published 18 days ago by daryl jones