3.5 stars. Cage at his most pretty and likable. The film sometimes comes close to feeling sneering, but Cage is committed and generous enough (as in 'Wild at Heart') that proceedings are mostly kept daffy and feel-good, not cruel. 'Raising Arizona' is goofball; throw-away; but it is also as serious as you allow it to be. What other film has you rooting for two child kidnappers?
Hugely inventive but not without flaws. The editing & character motivations are clumsy, while some of the jokes feel sneering & unnecessarily cruel. However the level of ambition is astonishing. Capturing the tone of a Tex Avery cartoon brought to life, the film blurs genre elements with an encyclopedic dexterity; bounding from scenes of screwball comedy to post-apocalyptic nightmare & ending on a vision of heaven.
The Coens exemplify that school of thought that advocates mastering the rules before breaking them. Precision filmmakers, w/ an undeniable grasp on formulas/devices/tropes & how to play w/ them. Sometimes it's delightful. Others, e.g. here, feel manipulative; like I'm being tricked into laughing at stuff I don't find funny, via well constructed set-ups. Still, beautifully executed. Even if I do resent the baby jokes.
Oh you, Nic Cage, forever playing with my feelings. Starring Gohst Rider. Starring that horrible The Wicker Man remake. Breaking my heart in pieces. But then I come back here, and what can I do other than love you? And again, everything is forgiven. Everything is forgiven, Nicholas Cage.
I'm not the Coens' biggest fan, and this just helps me realize why that is - they are the perfect american filmmakers, like Spielberg, jumping from genre to genre without any sort of personality. this film jumps from so many styles and has got almost no substance at all and isn't funny. it might be worth it for cage's performance and hunter just being a babe - for any other reason than that, just skip this.