An unconventional comedy film brought to you by the now-celebrated siblings of unconventional comedy, the Coen brothers. They were not so well-known in 1987, when this movie was released, but the quirky storyline bears many of the now-familiar hallmarks of their movies, helping this early offering to become a cult classic.
The story concerns an unlikely couple: slack-jawed recidivist Herbert I. (HI) McDonnough (Nicolas Cage in an early role and with outrageous hair) and his police officer spouse Edwina (Ed) (Holly Hunter). Desperate for a child and unable to conceive, they are tempted beyond measure by the birth of quintuplets to unpainted pine furniture tycoon Nathan Arizona, and decide to kidnap one of the babies, for as Nathan plainly says on TV, five is too many. Adorable Nathan Jr. firmly in hand, they head back to their humble home determined not to reveal how they suddenly became proud parents.
Inevitably, things begin to unravel.
First HI's buddies (John Goodman and William Forsyth with pompadours and muttonchops worthy of Leningrad Cowboys) show up, stinking from their unexpected encounter with a sewer main during their recent escape from jail. They loaf on the couch watching TV and snacking and attempting to parry Ed's orders to make them leave by goading HI about who wears the pants around the house (when clearly it's Ed). Eventually they cotton on to the baby's real identity and resolve to steal him and return him for the substantial reward being offered.
HI's boss comes by with his troop of rotten kids and prying wife (Frances McDormand in a wonderful cameo); the wife wants another baby to cuddle and pressures her husband to steal the baby for her.
And then there's Leonard Smalls (Randall "Tex" Cobb) (aka the Lone Biker of the Apocalypse), a filthy bounty hunter bristling with firearms and determined to get the baby and the reward for himself, ain't no one going to stand in his way.
You can imagine the shenanigans that ensue. It's great fun.
Featuring wacky camera angles and slapstick humour, this is a less-mature, but still very enjoyable, offering from the Coens. Recommended.
Ouroboros says: "You must mention the opening music is Beethoven's Ode to Joy played on a banjo", a pertinent detail indeed: in fact, this says it all. Thanks, wurm.