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Arizona Movie Review

Nuts in the Dust

Danny McBride is probably best known for his over-the-top comedy roles on cable television. In Jonathan Watson's "Arizona," he alternates between that persona and a very psychotic and scary individual. The mood of the film does likewise, careening back and forth between making you uncomfortable and making you laugh.

It's always difficult to mix genres, and comedy/thriller is as tough as it gets. When I think of that particular combination, I always go back to "An American Werewolf in London," which to me is the best example of when it works. In "Arizona" the two genres blend into one another within a single scene. It works better when a scene only features one genre. However, somehow "Arizona" is still great fun to watch because of the performances and the truly oddball plot.

The background for it is a failed planned community in Arizona that has fallen victim to the bursting of the housing bubble after the economic crash of 2008. Most of the houses in the development have long been deserted by their owners because they have failed to maintain their mortgage payments.

Sonny (Danny McBride), one of the remaining residents, is fed up. His wife has left him and he is in great debt. He goes to the local realtor to try and recover his investment because he blames the realtor for lying to him about the property he purchased from him. The argument turns physical and the realtor accidentally falls to his death. 

Cassie (Rosemarie Dewitt), another struggling homeowner who also works for the realtor, witnesses the incident. This sets in motion a crazed Sonny who cannot decide how far to go in order to silence Cassie. The rest of "Arizona" is a series of sometimes scary, sometimes funny incidents that involves a growing group of characters.

The net result for the viewer is confusion as to whether to be horrified or laugh at everything happening on the screen. This causes a tremendous lack of flow in the story. It's a series of stops and starts that never quite takes off in any particular direction. Despite this, there's still enough here to hold your interest, and some scenes are great fun. It's uneven black comedy, but it's far from being as dry and dusty as an Arizona desert.


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