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The Coen Brothers's "Raising Arizona"
December 11, 2012 8:12 PM   Subscribe

Raising Arizona is notable among the Coen Brothers’ filmography for seamlessly fusing the ravishing grimness of their drama with the slapstick antics of their comedy. ... [It] is an intensely bittersweet film. That it is admittedly hilarious distracts from this sorrow, but it doesn’t dampen it. If not the absolute best by the Coens, it’s certainly their most charming. - Michael Nordine

... what we have here is a film shot down by its own forced and mannered style. ... If the same story had been told straight, as a comic slice of life, it might have really worked. - Roger Ebert
posted by Egg Shen (112 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'll take Raising Arizona over No Country any day. I truly don't understand what people saw in the latter. Just a turgid slog that forgets who the main character is.
posted by bardic at 8:22 PM on December 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


If you don't burst out laughing at least once during the sequence where H.I. robs the convenience store, I DON'T WANT TO KNOW YOU.
posted by Lucinda at 8:24 PM on December 11, 2012 [15 favorites]


I'd guess Ebert would like a do-over on that review. It's both wrong and poorly written.
posted by schoolgirl report at 8:25 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I love love love Raising Arizona.

Ebert has continued to defend his review.
posted by The Deej at 8:26 PM on December 11, 2012


You ate sand?
posted by cazoo at 8:29 PM on December 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'll concur with that "bittersweet" assessment. There's a moment in the movie when Nicholas Cage's character is having a nightmare in which the Biker character is approaching, shooting small animals along the way. This vision is accompanied by an intense, bombastic bit of music, which, when Cage awakens, is revealed to be an amped-up version of the lullaby that Holly Hunter is singing to the baby.

Cage whispers,"It's a hard world for little things".

Later (and spoiler warning, I guess), when he reveals to the Biker that he's holding the pin from the grenade that the guy wears as an ornament, he whispers,"I'm sorry."

Those two moments, and the montage that closes the movies, stand out very sharply as a result of being surrounded by a lot of Chuck -Jones-style slapstick. This was the first Coen Brothers movie that I saw, and I haven't missed a film of theirs since.
posted by Ipsifendus at 8:29 PM on December 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


unless round is funny.
posted by stifford at 8:30 PM on December 11, 2012 [16 favorites]


If you don't burst out laughing at least once during the sequence where H.I. robs the convenience store, I DON'T WANT TO KNOW YOU.
posted by Lucinda


*BLAM* *BLAM* *BLAM* *BLAM* *BLAM* *BLAM* *BLAM* *BLAM*

As hilarious as that whole scene is, the constant gunfire cracks me up.
posted by azpenguin at 8:32 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Son, you got a panty on your head.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:34 PM on December 11, 2012 [23 favorites]


One of my 5 favorite movies of all time.

a couple of money quotes:
"Her insides were a rocky place where my seeds could find no purchase"

"You take that diaper off your head and put it right back on your sister!"

"These are some mighty fine cereal flakes Ms. Mcdonnough"
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:35 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


John Goodman emerging from a wet hole in the ground, bellowing his head off in a birth metaphor, is an image I will never, ever forget.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:36 PM on December 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


The prison/womb escape was priceless, I agree. Forsythe, if I remember correctly, was breach.
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:37 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Damn it, H.I., ain't I got enough to contend with?" is useful in any number of situations.
posted by Egg Shen at 8:38 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you don't burst out laughing at least once during the sequence where H.I. robs the convenience store, I DON'T WANT TO KNOW YOU.

Yeah, the grinning pimply faced, teeth in braces kid reading Juggs magazine and firing that big nickle plated .357 is got to be one of the funniest scenes in any movie ever.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:42 PM on December 11, 2012


There's what's right, and there's what's right, and never the twain shall meet.

This line from H.I. is great when you can't make a decision about stuff and need to sound smart.
posted by hot_monster at 8:44 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ahead of the "Lebowski PWNS Raising Arizona" comments: No, it doesn't.
posted by Rykey at 8:44 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of my favorite movies ever. I remember watching it as a young kid and being blown away by the manic combination of weirdness and sincerity.
posted by gnutron at 8:47 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


So . . . this is going to turn into a discussion about how we each incorporate Raising Arizona quotes into our daily lives? Sweet.

I enjoyed using, while teaching dissection in the cadaver lab: "Mind ya don't cut yerself, Mordecai!!"
posted by GastrocNemesis at 8:51 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Raising Arizona is a goddamn masterpiece and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. This means you, Ebert.
posted by vibrotronica at 8:54 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


They got more than they can handle.
posted by ColdChef at 8:59 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Never leave a man behind!
posted by ColdChef at 8:59 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Turn to the right!

I can do this forever. For. Ever.
posted by ColdChef at 9:00 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


(But while we're declaring our love, let me throw in my two cents for "The Hudsucker Proxy"- an underrated gem of a movie)
posted by ColdChef at 9:01 PM on December 11, 2012 [22 favorites]


Don't forget the bouquet, Ed!
posted by Hey Dean Yeager! at 9:02 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Raising Arizona is the best.

The best.
posted by odinsdream at 9:03 PM on December 11, 2012


I love that movie, but I'll be honest and admit that I still had my crush on Cage from Valley Girl the first time I saw it, so I was predisposed to like it. He plays that sadly manic adorable psychopath so brilliantly. But in subsequent viewings over the years, the movie has really held up, and is just as brilliant today as it was all that time ago.
posted by dejah420 at 9:04 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Of course, after the vows at our wedding ceremony, my bride said "OK then." She loves that movie just as much as I do. There's still places in the state we'll drive that will get us humming the theme music.
posted by azpenguin at 9:07 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Whoa, the reviewer misread a major plot point.
What’s most striking about [Smalls], however, is that he has a sort of brother in H.I. McDonnough, the hero of Raising Arizona. Opposites but equals, both sport a tattoo of a bird often mistaken for Woody Woodpecker but actually the logo for an auto parts manufacturer, the obscurity of which only serves to strengthen their bond. Their ways of life are vastly different, but they’ve one important commonality: both know what it means to be alone. When (spoilers herein) H.I. realizes he’s bested Smalls in their climactic battle, it isn’t with a sense of triumph. Instead, he tells him he’s sorry—and means it.
It isn't that Smalls is a brother to H.I. - he's his FATHER. H.I. was kidnapped away from him as a baby, and the bird tatoos reveal that backstory. Smalls describes the kidnapping earlier in the film.
posted by MythMaker at 9:08 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I need to watch that movie again.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:08 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love this movie so much.
posted by rtha at 9:09 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well okay then.

I say it at least once every three days.
posted by Sr_Cluba at 9:10 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Raising Arizona is one of the movies that I will always watch when I flip past it on TV. And the scene where H.I. scrapes his knuckles on the ceiling is the best ever.
posted by peep at 9:13 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


The (looooong) pre-credits sequence alone is a mini-masterpiece.

Also:
"What did the pajamas look like?"
"I don't know—they were jammies! They had Yodas and shit on 'em!"
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:19 PM on December 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


He's gotta have his dip-tet, honey!

and

Sometimes I get them menstrual cramps real hard

get frequent play in our house.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:23 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


There is an entire movie's worth of plot before the credits roll. Then you get another movie. It's a masterpiece.

The Coen brothers are American treasures.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:29 PM on December 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


I saw this in the theatre with a negro boy born with his heart on the other side.
posted by dobbs at 9:29 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


A while back I read through the Coens' filmography and realized that I'd seen every one of their films and, to varying degrees, like all of them...with the notable exception of The Ladykillers (and maaaaybe Burn After Reading, which had its moments but not an excess of them). If I get to play judge it's Miller's Crossing FTW.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:29 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, but Blood Simple trumps them all, forever and always.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:30 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Blood Simple is great. But they will never top Miller's Crossing. Never. And those of you who doubt me... well, I'll track down all you whores.
posted by dobbs at 9:32 PM on December 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Would you buy furniture at a store called Unpainted Huffhines?
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 9:35 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Can't we all just agree that's all great until The Ladykillers?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:38 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I literally just now added this to my Netflix instant queue, then I clicked on MetaFilter and saw this post!

(I have seen it before and remember loving it, but it's been way too long.)
posted by trip and a half at 9:39 PM on December 11, 2012


This was the first Coen brothers movie I ever saw--I was a young teen and some of it probably went over my head, but DAMN that movie was funny. I remember watching it with my (even younger) brother and both of us laughing till our stomachs hurt. It took subsequent viewings as an adult for me to realize the sorrow that's never too far from the slapstick. I mean for God's sake, the major catalyst for all the shenanigans is that H.I. and Ed desperately want a baby and are unable to conceive. This hits a little too close to home for me at the moment, and yet...and yet...the genius of the Coen brothers is that although I'd find that aspect of it painful, if I saw Raising Arizona today I'd still probably be laughing my ass off for most of it.
posted by Secret Sockdentity at 9:39 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


And yet, it seemed real. It seemed like us. And it seemed like, well ... our home. If not Arizona, then a land maybe not too far away, where all parents are strong and wise and capable, and all children are happy and beloved....

I dunno, maybe it was Utah.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:41 PM on December 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


When I was married, the missus and I would actually say to each other, "It ain't Ozzie and Harriet."

And, yes, there is some real, genuine pathos mixed in there. At one point, I wondered if I should love this movie that much, given that it makes comedy out of baby kidnapping, but after reading through several days' worth of Fark sometimes, I can easily imagine someone looking at a family that's just had quints, and saying, well, do they really need all those babies?
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:44 PM on December 11, 2012


Oh man, I love this movie so much. Thanks for reminding me to watch it again, Metafilter.
posted by BlueJae at 9:47 PM on December 11, 2012


Ahead of the "Lebowski PWNS Raising Arizona" comments: No, it doesn't.
posted by Rykey at 8:44 PM on December 11 [+] [!]


Well, that's just like, your opinion, man.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:49 PM on December 11, 2012 [21 favorites]


The "hippity hop left my wallter in El Segundo" monologue and the recurring images of bodies falling off the bridge were enough to earn The Ladykillers a place in my "glad I saw it" column.

But, yeah, Raising Arizona was the first movie I purchased on VHS and I've owned it on every other format since then.

"What Evelle here is trying to say is that we felt that the institution no longer had anything to offer us."

Every ten seconds, something gold happens. I don't know if I'm able to rank any of my favorite Coen Brothers movies above any other of their movies, but Raising Arizona is certainly at the top with a few others.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:20 PM on December 11, 2012


It's weird to be so very very fond of Ebert the man and Ebert the man's thoughtful and perspicacious writings, and to find his judgement, year after year... often ... so very bad. (Prometheus, 4 Stars!, Siskel, give me strength!)
posted by Auden at 10:27 PM on December 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Raising Arizona, The Hudsucker Proxy, The Big Lebowski. That's my Coen Brothers top three and of them, I weep at the fact that Hudsucker gets so little love.
posted by linux at 10:36 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


The thing I always think back on, in Raising Arizona:

John Goodman, squatting in HI's trailer, taps his head with a chicken leg and says, "Think."

I don't know if it was action from the director, or Goodman's choice, but that bit of business always kills me.
posted by SPrintF at 10:52 PM on December 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wow, I haven't thought of this movie for a long time. Mind his little fontanelle, that's natural, if'n I drop.... I loved it so much; though, to be fair, it loses some of its charm after the 400th viewing.
posted by fleacircus at 10:54 PM on December 11, 2012


It's been praised before, but I have to say this: The manic chase sequence involving the convenience store, the diapers, the crazed police and the stray dogs is the funniest film sequence I have ever seen.

I am constantly amazed at the Coens' deep, profound understanding of slapstick. It's so bracing, so pure. The nihilist writhing on the ground after getting hit in the bread basket with a bowling ball, gasping for air, his ass crack hanging out of his tight leather pants; Delmar and Everett getting brained by Big Dan Teague at their fateful picnic -- they make every other contemporary director's slapstick sequences look like half-formed notions or blurry reproductions of some platonic ideal.
posted by DeWalt_Russ at 10:55 PM on December 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Any time Gale and Evelle were on the screen, you could just smell the BO.
posted by fleacircus at 10:56 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


In and amidst all of the well deserved love for so many Coen brothers' movies, I feel compelled to put in a small word for A Serious Man. That movie is just so many shades of awesome - their fond look backwards at growing up Jewish in Minnesota, and all of the weirdness that entailed. That movie is so bittersweet, and so assured in telling its story, and so...right. I think it really helps to be Jewish and have a sense of how Jewish communities, institutions, and religious traditions work to really get all of the sly jokes and nods towards hypocrisy that they packed in there. But the bar mitzvah scene in that movie (which I won't spoil) -- it's just a perfect scene, and deeply, deeply funny. My understanding is that they conceived of that scene and then crafted the rest of the story around it. It's just a brilliantly conceived little vignette, but it tells so much so well; it is so. fucking. spot-on.

God, I love the Coens...
posted by mosk at 10:59 PM on December 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Can't we all just agree that's all great until The Ladykillers?

It's all great beyond that too. Maybe not as great, but they've been really rather remarkable in avoiding the diminishing returns, even when they're basically just making the same "criminals fuck up" movie over and over again in varying genres, or when they just Sopranos the ending or whatever.

And, for what it's worth, I like the Coens' The Ladykillers a lot. I do completely understand why people don't--there are many possible reasons--but it doesn't bother me one bit.

I just plain do not like Raising Arizona, though. I'm not really sure why. It just doesn't click with me like all the other Coen movies. Maybe it's too cartoonish or something? But, then, I just finished saying I like The Ladykillers, so...? I really don't know. I would love to like it, but I just don't.

Fargo > everything
posted by Sys Rq at 11:16 PM on December 11, 2012


Burn After Reading is waaaaaay better on second viewing (and post-Petraeus/Broadwell scandal).
posted by mazola at 11:24 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


After a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, I've realised that my favourite Coen brothers movie is whichever one I've seen most recently. I haven't seen Raising Arizona in ages... it's probably time for a re-watch.
posted by harriet vane at 11:25 PM on December 11, 2012


I saw Raising Arizona when my first child was two weeks old, when I was firmly punchy from long-term sleep deprivation but not yet psychotic. Reader, there is no better state in which to see the movie.
posted by KathrynT at 11:27 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's weird to be so very very fond of Ebert the man and Ebert the man's thoughtful and perspicacious writings, and to find his judgement, year after year... often ... so very bad.

Since he was on the air with Siskel, his opinion is almost certain to be the opposite of mine. It’s very useful in that way. I actually thought he seemed like a jerk back then, but much less so now.
posted by bongo_x at 11:29 PM on December 11, 2012


Well, which is it, young feller: do you want I should freeze or do you want I should get down on the ground? Mean to say, iffen I freeze, I can't rightly drop, and iffen I drop, I'm gon' be in motion.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:32 AM on December 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


Reader, there is no better state in which to see the movie.

Except, maybe, Utah.
posted by SPrintF at 12:38 AM on December 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Ladykillers was scripted to be directed by their former cinematographer, Barry Sonnenfeld; he backed out and the Coens stepped in. The other weak film in the Coens' directorial oeuvre, Intolerable Cruelty, was originally scripted by Robert Ramsey and Matt Stone, rewritten by the Coens, and was intended to be directed by Ron Howard and then Jonathan Demme.

One or both Coens have also coscripted Crimewave and The Naked Man, the first cowritten and directed by Sam Raimi, the latter cowritten and directed by J. Todd Anderson. Both have their pleasures, but are very definitely minor films of the Coens.

I'm going to go ahead and say that they are filmmakers who don't benefit from collaboration, or, at least, not that sort of collaboration. Their weakest films have involved collaboration with living artists. Their best work often involved projects in which, even if they are drawing from work by Cormac McCarthy or the Odyssey or Charles Portis, they nonetheless can completely indulge their particular vision.

And I'm going to go ahead and list The Man Who Wasn't There as being among my favorites, in part because it offers what I think is Frances McDormand's finest performance.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:04 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Love Cage's lethargic drawl in the 'Those were the salad days' scene with him watering the rocks and sand around the trailer, while the question of the meaning of existence stretches out around H.I. and Ed as wide as the desert sky. Just to have created that one moment in film ...

Raising Arizona also contains a very accessible and still very deep reflection on the import or purpose of criminal justice (retribution or reformation or ...) in current society. Okay then!
posted by rudster at 1:41 AM on December 12, 2012


Barton Fink
Miller's Crossing
No Country

yes, I am a weirdo
posted by mannequito at 2:41 AM on December 12, 2012


Ya.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:21 AM on December 12, 2012


You got any of them balloons you make into funny shapes?

Well yeah if you think round is funny
posted by fungible at 4:22 AM on December 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


What, no mention of O Brother, Where Art Thou? To me, by far the most charming Coen Bros. movie, and the one with the most solid narrative. It's in my "watch once a year" list...
posted by sutt at 4:55 AM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Having just had a son, my wife and I have watched the "I Looooove him SOOOOOOOO MUUUUCCCHHH" scene quite a bit lately. It's such a great great movie, and I think the best by the Coens, basically because it sets up so much that plays out across their oeuvre.
posted by OmieWise at 5:06 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Any time anyone tells me they are looking for work:
"You're young and you got your health, what you want with a job?"
posted by Cookiebastard at 5:38 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe my favourite movie. Favourite of the Coens, for sure. And I like almost all of 'em.

quotes that float around my home (other than ones already mentioned above):

"Gubmint do take a bite, don't she."

"Say, that reminds me..."
posted by annekenstein at 6:01 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


My fyance left me!
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:16 AM on December 12, 2012


To this day I describe any intuitive process as "fairly explanatory."
posted by Gelatin at 6:33 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


TRIVIA: When HI is working his job drilling sheet metal, the name of the company he works for is Hudsucker Industries.
posted by ColdChef at 6:33 AM on December 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Now, y'all without sin can cast the first stone.
posted by ColdChef at 6:38 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Pssst. "Raising Arizona" is streaming on Netflix. I ask my wife, she's got more sense.)
posted by ColdChef at 6:39 AM on December 12, 2012


Interesting that Ebert cites True Grit in his review, since the Coens remade it 23 years later.
posted by benbenson at 6:54 AM on December 12, 2012


We are swingers! As in, to swing!
posted by benbenson at 6:57 AM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Other than the Coen brother films I can't think of anyone else who makes movies I like so much more on the second, third and fourth viewings. The nimbleness of language is amazing and I have to listen again and again to pick up the subtleties, to be so immersed in the poetry as to enjoy it completely.
This has happened again and again. First time I saw "Brother, Where Art Thou?" I liked parts and was annoyed by others, sometimes thinking the frog scene or the Cyclops were heavy-handed. Now I see it again and again and I am floored by scenes that just haven't been matched elsewhere (The KKK rally.) and the way they toss out killer dialog.
I marginally enjoyed "The Big Lebowski" the first time I saw it. I thought scenes such as where the Dude floated in a choreographed bowling sequence were self-indulgent or that the bowling-ball cam was gimmicky. (Maybe this is what is off-putting to Ebert.)
On repeat viewings, the indulgences don't bother me. They are not as jarring because they are no longer surprises. And the good, smaller parts grow.
I guess it gets back to a critique someone made here regarding Arrested Development - they create their own universe, off-kilter and a language that grows. It rewards repeat viewings because now I understand the native tongue.
On the other hand, I find that their suspense pieces, "Fargo" and "No Country for Old Men," do present most of their depth up front. I still enjoy them, but there seems to be less to pick up in repeat viewings.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:01 AM on December 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


I like Hudsucker a lot, too. I often think of the first scene when I'm at work.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:05 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I came to the Coen Brothers via Miller's Crossing, The Hudsucker Proxy, Blood Simple, and Barton Fink (I think in that order) so when I finally saw Raising Arizona it was a shock and I didn't like it all that much.

Subsequent multiple viewings have changed my opinion, of course, and I now love it. Still, to this day stands out in my mind as the least Coen of all their movies* - maybe because Sonnenfeld's use of wide-angle lenses everywhere makes it so visually distinct?

* not counting The Ladykillers because how can you count something that never really happened
posted by komara at 7:09 AM on December 12, 2012


"And when there was no crawdad to be found, we ate sand."

"You ate sand?"

"We ate sand."
posted by kirkaracha at 7:10 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Love this video of Pete Seeger performing the theme tune (Way Out There) and teaching the squares how to yodel.
posted by schoolgirl report at 7:19 AM on December 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I feel I should add that Miller's Crossing is my favorite movie - not only of the Coen's but of all movies - and it took me a long time to figure out why that was. Turns out a lot of my love comes from how the Coens peppered it with funny lines and situations while simultaneously telling - no, demanding - that you had best not find any of it humorous. The long lenses, shadows, somber faces, and Burwell's score practically hold you down and say, "This is a SERIOUS FILM. Don't you DARE smile."

... and yet I think you could take that script and turn it into a comedy without changing a word. I really do. Once I came to realize that I came to understand Raising Arizona far better.

("What you mean, he's eatin' too much? What's the goddamn doctor know?")
posted by komara at 7:20 AM on December 12, 2012


"You're a flower, you are."

Mrs. Infinity8 doesn't understand me. I figured that out the time I said, after checking our then-infant daughter's nappie, "She done had herself a li'l ol' accident." It might have been the post-partum hormones but if looks could kill I wouldn't be sitting here typing this.
posted by Infinity_8 at 7:21 AM on December 12, 2012


Komara, once my wife figured me out a little better she learned to respond to most of my provocations with "Are you givin' me the high hat? ARE YOU GIVIN' ME THE HIGH HAT?"
posted by Infinity_8 at 7:23 AM on December 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


How come the Coens slash Raimi flick Crimewave never gets any love?

Get away from that fuckin' window!

Damn, I wish I could find the Mr. Yarmin scene.
posted by dobbs at 7:24 AM on December 12, 2012


As I'm a child of the fifties my parents were older in a different way that parents are older now. So we didn't find funny in the same way...except for Raising Arizona. I remember my dad harrumphing when I stuck it in the vcr. And then the kid pulling his hoody over his head during the chase scene..my dad and mom are laughing their asses off...a family film if there ever was one.
posted by xjudson at 7:26 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


In a very real way, Raising Arizona was a gateway drug for me into looking at film as art (as opposed to watching it just for good blown' shit up action), and really established the idea that weird, oddball creativity was something you should embrace. I missed out on a lot of potentially life-changing stuff in the 80s, but I'm glad as hell that I somehow found that movie.

Random things I love about the Coens, aside from many of the things articulated by other people above:

1. Their penchant for sneaking in Busby Berkeley-style song and dance numbers into movies (Lebowski, which has a lot of direct visual quotes, even, and O Brother) where no reasonable person would expect them.

2. The way that, when I got a Jimmie Rodgers ("The Singing Brakeman!") album, 90% of the weird musical choices in Coen Bros movies abruptly started making sense.
posted by COBRA! at 7:36 AM on December 12, 2012


One of the reasons I enjoy the Coens' films is that they are not so much an exploration of "What does the protagonist want?" but an examination of how the protagonist fails to make an impression on his environment. The Coens constantly produce loving vignettes of men being tumbled and thrashed by the world. I think most of their protagonists are given a clear goal or desires but those have little bearing on how the story plays out. It's not so much about idiocy and bumbling - these players are often compentent - but about futility, maybe even about fate. See: Blood Simple, Miller's Crossing, Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, The Man Who Wasn't There, No Country for Old Men, Burn After Reading. This culminated in A Serious Man which I consider the pinnacle of their examination of the ineffective protagonist.

I think it's worth noting that Fargo stands out. It's the only of their films with a strong female protagonist and she does have a goal and does reach that goal through competence. I'm not sure what this says about the Coen brothers and their views on gender but I could take a guess, and that guess is reinforced by how they typically treat the women in the supporting roles in their other films.

and I guess that goes back to why I didn't love Raising Arizona the first time I saw it, nor Intolerable Cruelty, though I love both of those movies now (and though there's little slapstick I do find Intolerable Cruelty nearly as funny as Raising Arizona), because they didn't follow the pattern I'd come to expect from Coen movies, even when I didn't realize what that pattern was.
posted by komara at 7:39 AM on December 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


(not to imply that H.I. and Ed are terribly effective protagonists but the movie is more about them trying to protect a decision they've made instead of them having a goal they never reach)
posted by komara at 7:42 AM on December 12, 2012


So . . . this is going to turn into a discussion about how we each incorporate Raising Arizona quotes into our daily lives? Sweet.

Whenever I see a cute baby/toddler, I tell my husband, "Git me that baby, H.I.!" in Holly Hunter's delicious accent.
posted by cooker girl at 7:47 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, I went to Ball State University. I'm a Muncie girl!

And, when is a sidewalk fully dressed? When it's wearing Hudsucker!

You know, for kids!
posted by cooker girl at 7:48 AM on December 12, 2012


On the other hand, I find that their suspense pieces, "Fargo" and "No Country for Old Men," do present most of their depth up front. I still enjoy them, but there seems to be less to pick up in repeat viewings.

I beg to differ.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:48 AM on December 12, 2012


ricochet biscuit: while that comment you linked to is true, and my experiences in the theater were similar, I don't think it really argues against what dances with sneetches was suggesting. Probably the first half-dozen times I watched Miller's Crossing I picked up on one more subtle little thing - either I finally grasped what was meant by one piece of throwaway slang, or I realized exactly who had shot who, or finally understood some little callback to an earlier scene. You can apply that experience to Barton Fink, for sure, or many of their other films.

I've watched No Country for Old Men at least ten times and I don't think I picked up anything new past a minor clarification in the second viewing. I believe that's what dances with sneetches was talking about - the movie's all there, up front, ready to be consumed entirely on first sight. There's no new insight to be gained on multiple viewings.
posted by komara at 7:58 AM on December 12, 2012


the movie's all there, up front, ready to be consumed entirely on first sight. There's no new insight to be gained on multiple viewings

Pauline Kael's term- used in the context of Citizen Kane - was "a shallow masterpiece".
posted by Egg Shen at 8:32 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


both sport a tattoo of a bird often mistaken for Woody Woodpecker but actually the logo for an auto parts manufacturer

Mr. Horsepower
posted by kirkaracha at 8:39 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well honestly, what kind of jerk doesn't Unpainted Huffhines?
posted by Smedleyman at 8:53 AM on December 12, 2012


I only saw RA once when I was maybe 12 years old, and loved it. Way Out There has been one of my favorite songs since not long after that, though I didn't discover it from the movie. Had to go revisit that song—thank you post 122787 for putting a double smile on my face!

Now off to the video store...
posted by maniabug at 9:46 AM on December 12, 2012


Now off to the video store...

What the hell is a video store?
posted by lkc at 10:02 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


You go right back up there and get me a toddler!
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:02 AM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's no new insight to be gained on multiple viewings.

So, the movie is no country for old men, then?
posted by Infinity_8 at 10:31 AM on December 12, 2012


It isn't that Smalls is a brother to H.I. - he's his FATHER.

The baby in the story is Smalls, not H.I. "Why, I myself fetched $30,000 on the black market. And that was in 1954 dollars."

You go right back up there and get me a toddler!

Goofs: They're not toddlers.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:40 PM on December 12, 2012


All this has somehow reassured me that I'm not alone in my love of Raising Arizona.
posted by michswiss at 2:38 PM on December 12, 2012


Goofs: They're not toddlers.

So Ed was confused or didn't know what a toddler is. That doesn't make it a goof.

Anyone want to hear a Polack joke?
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 4:57 PM on December 12, 2012


Surprised too that O Brother isn't getting more love here. Just a great movie, and I love the expert way the soundtrack is weaved throughout the movie.
posted by azpenguin at 6:33 PM on December 12, 2012


I just want to say that Nathan Arizona is one of my favorite movie names of all time. It rolls off the tongue so nice.
posted by young sister beacon at 8:42 PM on December 12, 2012


"Sometimes I get the menstrual cramps real hard."
posted by bardic at 11:37 PM on December 12, 2012


My Metafilter handle isn't my real name, BTW. Y'hear that y'all? It's a code name!
posted by Rykey at 1:25 PM on December 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


A great movie. Thinking about it really takes me back. Re-watching their movies is always a treat.
posted by bernardo78 at 9:52 AM on December 19, 2012


I just discovered that this thread exists and I am in the midst of an absolutely shittastic day at work, just one of many that I've had recently, and I haven't read any of you peoples' comments yet, but I would just like to say...

Raising Arizona is my all-time favorite movie (and I think the Hudsucker Proxy is probably #2) so this is going to make everything so much better.

And Roger Ebert's review can suck my balls.
posted by phunniemee at 12:54 PM on December 19, 2012


Came in late to say: It's your whole goddam raison d'etre!
posted by ElGuapo at 5:36 AM on December 22, 2012


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