When they do manage to kidnap young Nathan Arizona, Jr (T.J.Kuhn), an adventure in itself, it's clear that neither of them have any idea what to do. As if Nathan was a visiting alien, they dote and fawn over their idealised concept of a baby rather than the real thing that's sitting between them. The world of nappies, jabs and insurance is wholly new to them; when their friends Glen (Sam McMurray) and Dot (Frances McDormand) visit it's clear that they haven't even decided on a name yet! Additional complications arrive at 2am in the form of Gale (John Goodman) and Evelle (William Forsythe), two convicts who met H.I. in jail and have just broken out of the very same place [the scene where they emerge, birth-like, from their tunnel under the thick, glutinous mud is impressive and surreal]. Ed recognises the threat that these two personify, both because they're fugitives (they could draw unwelcome attention onto Nathan) and because they're an attraction to the bad, old days for H.I.
A further layer of complication is added by H.I's subconscious (really!) when he falls into an intense nightmare involving some sort of demon-biker from Hell, who actually has the somewhat prosaic name of Leonard Smalls (Randall "Tex" Cobb). Leonard seems to be nothing more than a phantasm until, in a sheet of flame and smoke, he decides to materialise and offer his services to Nathan Arizona, Sr (Trey Wilson). With Leonard on the trail (he's also looking for Gale and Evelle, so all paths lead to H.I's caravan door) it looks as though their baby-tending days may be brought to an abrupt halt. However, both Glen and Gale soon realise that Nathan Jr is worth $25,000 (the reward that his father has posted), making him a valuable infant. Can H.I and Ed make their way through this tumult and still end up as a nuclear family at the end?
If you're the sort of viewer that loves movies which twist reality and fiction into knots, without caring whether certain aspects make much sense, then Raising Arizona may be just your cup of tea. The Coen brothers display an admirable disregard for verisimilitude, instead concentrating on technique, witty dialogue and style. An example of the synthesis of these elements occurs during a stretched chase sequence, which commences when H.I. decides to return to robbing grocery stores. It goes wrong, of course, and he ends up being chased by homicidal clerks, rabid dogs and gun-happy policeman through stores, gardens, alleys and houses. Throughout this the camera bounces kinetically around, alternating between different view points, racing up and down stairs and generally pumping us full of energy - this is heady stuff. There is more to the film than just action sequences though, such as fine comic acting from most of the cast (even if some of the characters are unnaturally constrained in their nature) and an amusing screen-play. Thus, this is a fun movie but only if you're in the right (bizarre/crazy) mood.