Nic Cage Appreciation Month: Raising Arizona (1987)

Raising Arizona was a bit of a disappointment, Cage-wise. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying he was bad in it - on the contrary, he was really rather good - but he wasn't playing Nic Cage in it. This is one of the few films where he actually acts, rather than doing that drawling, whole-arm-pointing Elvis impression he's liable to do whenever a director doesn't have a tight enough hold on his leash. It's probably because this was quite early on in his career, though, and Cage does sport some spectacularly crazy hair and incredibly sharp cheekbones, which went some way towards making up for it.

Cage plays H.I. McDunnough, an ex-con who ends up marrying Ed, a police officer played by the ever-wonderful Holly Hunter. Everything goes about as well as such a match could be expected to go until they learn that they're barren. Coincidentally, in the news that week is a story about a couple who've just had quintuplets. The couple decide to steal a baby, and from then on the film is pretty much your standard farce.

The Coens' movies seem to be something you either get or you don't. It's not quite the Marmite effect, because although I'm not sure I really got this movie, I certainly didn't hate it, it just didn't quite click with me. The most interesting part was how much it seems to presage Cage's later career. (Okay, I'm talking about Ghost Rider again, but the Leonard Smalls character, about whom H.I. has nightmares, practically is Ghost Rider. There's even a shot where Smalls rides his bike past a lizard in the desert and it burns up and dies, which I'm certain recurs in Ghost Rider.) Cage's accent, the fact that he's playing an ex-con, and some graffiti on a toilet wall all point towards Con Air, and there are plenty of seeds sown for the kind of quirkiness and insanity that will later characterise Nic Cage as a movie star. There's definite promise here.

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