Arizona

Studio: RLJE Films
Directed by Jonathan Watson

Aug 24, 2018 Web Exclusive
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Don't let the presence of Danny McBride fool you into thinking Arizona is the kind of straightforward comedy you are used to seeing the actor in, because it certainly is not. Is it funny? Yes. Is it extremely violent? Very.

Cassie (Rosemarie DeWitt) is struggling to get by after separating from her husband Scott (Luke Wilson). She lives with her daughter Morgan (Lolli Sorenson) and works as a real estate agent, unable to make a sale in 2009 Arizona. Set in the foreground of the housing crisis, Arizona finds a lot of people hating real estate agents.

Enter Sonny, pissed off as anyone else. Like a tornado of pure aggression, he storms into Cassie's office to confront her boss, Gus (played in a cameo by Seth Rogen), about the deal they made on the house sold to him and he isn't pleased. He can barely afford it and Sonny and Gus get into a heated argument that leads to Sonny accidentally killing Gus.

Once Sonny is aware Cassie was in the office next door and witnessed everything, he bashes her over the head and takes her back to his house and ties her up. It's painfully obvious Sonny doesn't know what he's doing or what his next plan with Cassie will be. All he cares about is how angry he is but reassures Cassie he is, in fact, a really good guy. Nope.

A game of cat-and-mouse ensues throughout the rest of Arizona's scant 85-minute running time, where Cassie has to find every possible way to outrun Sonny. You would think it would be easy to ditch the clueless Sonny but when her daughter is in the mix and he has a violent agenda, he isn't so easy to escape.

Arizona is a madcap, nasty delight, directed with swift efficiency by Jonathan Watson in a directorial debut. While nothing is exactly new ground in Arizona, he keeps things moving quickly and creates pure entertainment and a strong star vehicle for McBride. He has always been one of those performers who never really made much of an impression, fading into the background, but his deranged characterization of Sonny allows him to have some fun in the role.

The Arizona terrain is captured like a post-apocalyptic wasteland, which gives the movie an intriguing atmosphere.  Arizona doesn't lean heavily into the housing crisis aspect of the movie, nor does it need to, but offers a bit of contextualization amidst the madness. Not many movies of its ilk can say they offer the same.

Author rating: 7/10

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