Raising Arizona

Movie review by
Tony Nigro, Common Sense Media
Raising Arizona Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Hysterically twisted tale has profanity, violence.
  • PG-13
  • 1987
  • 94 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 21 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

This movie is too farcical and comedic to have any real positive messages. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main characters are criminals, but it's a farce and not meant to be taken seriously.


Frequent violence, often exaggerated, such as the lengthy chase of the male lead after he robs a convenience store; the chase is filled with frequent gun and rifle shots, a pack of neighborhood dogs suddenly on the loose, and a chase in which the police pursue a man through a stranger's home and a grocery store, shooting guns the entire time. Characters fistfight, wrestle. One character blows up from a hand grenade. The male lead is shown badly beaten as he is punched and thrown repeatedly in a violent beating. A bank robbery. A paint canister placed in a bag filled with money explodes while the two robbers are driving away from the bank. Knife throwing. A man is knocked off his motorcycle with a two-by-four. 


An unsympathetic character tells the male lead that he and his wife are "swingers" and offers to "wife-swap." Talk of fertility, reference to semen. A teen convenience store clerk looks at an issue of Juggs magazine. The male lead hides a copy of Playboy under a mattress. 


Usually at least one curse word in every scene: "f--k" and "s--t," "son of a bitch," "bulls--t," "s--tbox," "damn," "hell."" An unsympathetic character is fond of telling "Polack" jokes. A young child is shown scrawling the word "FART" on a living room wall. 


Cans of Budweiser. Corn Flakes. Huggies Diapers feature prominently in an extended chase scene. Bottle of J&B scotch. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Two escaped convicts drink beer and leave the empties scattered all around them. Social beer drinking. Cigarette smoking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Raising Arizona is a classic 1987 Coen brothers film in which Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunt steal an infant from parents who recently gave birth to quintuplets after they learn they're unable to have children of their own. The main characters are kidnappers and convicts. A kidnapped baby is taken into perilous situations throughout, such as car chases, bank robberies, gunfights, and the like. One character is a bounty hunter of sorts who, in a dream sequence, destroys everything in his path, including bunny rabbits. A character blows up from a hand grenade. While the violence is often exaggerated for comedic or dramatic effect, there is an extended chase sequence in which gun and rifle fire is nonstop. Characters are shown bloodied and bruised in these fights. There is some profanity in nearly every scene -- including one use of "f--k" and variations on "s--t." A teen convenience store clerk looks at a pornographic magazine. There is some sex talk, often in the context of conceiving a baby. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10-year-old Written byJillC4 June 2, 2016

Cussing not the worst part

I'm in the minority here, I'm sure. I don't think cussing is so bad. The worst part of this movie for kids, in my opinion, is the "wife swap... Continue reading
Parent of a 10-year-old Written byekim March 14, 2011

Language is F-ed up

"nothing overt?" This movie is chock full of F-bombs, Sh's and GD's. Certainly worse than would be expected in a PG-13 movie
Teen, 14 years old Written byBobideybob August 5, 2018


hilarious movie! i loved it. you might be wondering why i put great messages... well (SPOILER) its not really "great" messages, it's more like... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 19, 2013

raising arizona

Hysterical movie with f-bombs, sex, and some violence

What's the story?

This early entry from the quirky Coen brothers concerns an ex-convict named H.I. (Nicolas Cage) who falls in love and marries a police officer named Edwina or "Ed" (Holly Hunter). After learning that they cannot have children, the couple decides to kidnap a baby boy quintuplet from wealthy furniture mogul Nathan Arizona (Trey Wilson). But when Arizona posts a large reward for his baby's safe return, H.I.'s two former prison buddies (John Goodman and William Forsythe) show up unannounced, and a ruthless, baby-selling bounty hunter (Randall "Tex" Cobb) attempts to hunt him down.

Is it any good?

A traditional farce, RAISING ARIZONA offers plenty of laughs but plenty of heart, too: A central theme in the movie is how hard it is to keep a family together.

Of course, car chases, gunfights, and chaos abound, and most of the time it's in the presence of a young infant. However, none of this has any more devastating an effect than when dynamite explodes in Daffy Duck's face. Indeed, this is merely a cartoon with real actors, with the the result being hilarious but only suited for mature viewers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what makes this movie funny. Kidnappings and bounty hunters aren't usually treated so lightly . Why are they funny here? Can you think of other movies that make light of usually serious subject matter? Where do you draw the line between offbeat and truly tasteless territory?

  • How is setting -- in this case Arizona -- almost a character unto itself in this movie? How does that sense come through in the scenery, the secondary characters, the objects, and so on? How is this sense of place as character similar to that in other Coen brothers movies, such as Fargo and The Big Lebowski, for instance? 

  • How is this movie a parody? How do you know we aren't supposed to take it seriously? Are there ever times when the characters display humanity? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love to laugh

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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