Raising Arizona

Rated PG-13 92 minutes

Joel and Ethan Coen's 1987 Road Runner comedy in overdrive, about a convenience-store bandit (Nicolas Cage) who swipes the infant son of an unfinished-furniture tycoon, then has a hard time holding on to the kid. The snickering humor that percolated through the Coens' debut, Blood Simple, is the whole show here, and it's damn near hysterical. Like their baby-napping hero, the brothers' steal from every source imaginable—from Warners animation to The Miracle of Morgan's Creek—though the kinetic social sniping seems closest to their own raucous hearts. The cartoon vision of southwestern tackiness doesn't cut very deep, but the mise-en-scene is packed with clever clutter, and the kids-as-props gags (babies bouncing around a room like tiny billiard balls, etc) are as gratifyingly tasteless as they are sentimentally canny. Both brothers deserve credit for the sophomoric screenplay, though the hyperactive visuals (every shot a screaming wide angle) are the work of director Joel. With Holly Hunter, Trey Wilson, and William Forsythe and John Goodman as hilarious convict kin.

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