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.
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.