Joel and Ethan Coen’s second film, and a wild-eyed, Rube Goldberg riot, as Southern-fool marrieds Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter, unable to have babies of their own (“Her insides were a rocky place,” Cage’s dopey felon bemoans in an unforgettable narration, “where my seed could find no purchase.”), kidnap one from a set of quintuplets. From there, Raising Arizona is a veritable Road Runner cartoon revolving around the infant’s essentially irresistible baby-ness, and there are enough character-rich hee-haws for ten movies. The urgent matter of getting your hands on some Huggies in the worst of circumstances was never made so thrilling.
Commitment-phobe Nicholas Cage loses a Vegas poker game to a cunning gambler (James Caan) who offers a devil’s bargain: the debt is forgiven in exchange for a weekend with the loser’s fiancée (Sarah Jessica Parker). Nicholas Cage is at his frenetic best as the desperate bridegroom trying to win back the girl, if only he can find her—and be on the lookout for Peter Boyle in a hilarious cameo. Deftly written and directed by Andrew (The In-Laws) Bergman, this is for anyone who chooses to skip the traditional wedding in favor of the quickie hitch at the Elvis Chapel of Love.
Romance and Italiante comedy abound in a kind of dreamy, magical hunk of brownstone Brooklyn, with Cher’s widowed frump dubiously accepting the proposal of Danny Aiello’s dumb mama’s boy, then falling for his troubled, one-handed brother (Nicolas Cage). Luckily, the margins of the movie are filled to the brim with witty character actors, slabs of comedic nonsense, behavioral detail, and a sense of warmheartedness in regard to the follies of humankind. Screenwriter John Patrick Shanley captured a cartoon-paisan flavor; though it seems somewhat dated now, it’s a far better submersion in Mediterranean-emigré boisterousness than My Big Fat Greek Wedding.