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Raising Arizona

List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Chris Hughes | posted February 4, 2000 | E-mail the Author
Features: Widescreen Letterboxed - 1.85:1English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Dubbed French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround). Subtitles: English, Spanish. Theatrical trailer(s), TV spot(s).

The Movie:
With their third release the writing/directing team of Joel and Ethan Coen hit a home run. Raising Arizona is the story of an ex con and his retired policewoman wife who, after learning of their own infertility, decide to kidnap one of the Arizona family's famous quintuplets. Of course mayhem ensues and to great comic effect. I'm a big fan of the Coen brother's work and rank this film among their top three (the others being The Hudsucker Proxy and Fargo in no particular order.) Nick Cage plays the lead character H.I. and Holly Hunter his parenthood obsessed wife. Both put in excellent performances and bring the Coen script to life like no other two actors could. Raising Arizona was an instant classic and remains so to this day.

The Picture:
Raising Arizona could have benefited from an anamorphic transfer but Fox Home Video chose to decline that feature which is a shame. Beyond that fact the film looks very good. The colors are bright and clean, the contrast and black levels are good and I couldn't see any edge effects or compression artifacts. There are some scenes that seem a bit soft and grainy but that's inherent to the film itself and not a major drawback.

The Sound:
The soundtrack is in Dolby AC-3 surround but the mix is heavily biased toward the front sound stage. The surrounds are so low in the mix that I would have though this was a simple stereo presentation. This isn't exactly an action film though so the run-of-the-mill sound shouldn't keep you from buying the disc. Dialogue is critical to the enjoyment of Raising Arizona and it's easily understandable throughout.

The Extras:
Raising Arizona has a huge following. Many fans consider this to be the best comedy of all times and I'm sure they would have loved to have seen a special edition release. Certainly a making of documentary or a commentary track with the Coen brothers would have been a nice addition but Fox chose to release this film with nothing more than the original theatrical trailer, three TV spots and previews (full screen) for Miller's Crossing and Barton Fink.

Conclusion:
The lack of extras and the non-anamorphic transfer make this a much less attractive DVD but if you're a fan of the film you won't be disappointed with the clean, widescreen presentation. I'm inclined to speculate that there will be a special edition released at some time in the future (though none has been announced) so I recommend renting for the time being.
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