Arizona Dream (1993)

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Arizona Dream just was released on DVD from Warner Archives. It’s an odd little film, being the first English film of Cannes darling and Bosnian/Yugoslavian director Emir Kustarica. It has a very strong cast, featuring Johnny Depp, Jerry Lewis, Faye Dunaway, and Paulina Porizkova.

But it doesn’t work.

The plot is middling and disjointed, but that is true of most of Kustarica’s films. Depp plays a philosophical fish catcher who is called to Arizona by his Uncle (Jerry Lewis) to become a car salesman. Fay Dunaway shows up in Arizona as a loony widow and has her even crazier stepdaughter (Lili Taylor) in tow. The stepdaughter is fascinated with her own suicide so she can be reincarnated as a turtle.

There is a fairly good scene showing a recreation of the classic biplane chase from North by Northwest at an odd kind of talent show. And the closing scene with Depp and Lewis ice fishing but speaking in native Eskimo is beyond comprehension.

Official Shop of Warner BrosThis film will keep you on the edge of your seat because you never know what will happen next; but at the same time wince because you really don’t care after a bit. It is simply too disjointed and discombobulated to hold the viewer’s attention.

Also at some point along the way, the film goes from comedy to dark comedy to pure depression. Between suicide attempts and overdoses not much good happens in the back half of this one.

The acting is fairly good. Lewis is tolerable but you never really believe the next thing he does won’t be his usual inane stupidity.

This film has a bit of a cult following and is held in high regard in some circles, which surely accounts for its release by Warner Archives in a fairly standard (for them) release. Warners has updated the look of the slipcase for their releases, making them a tad bit less formulaic. If you have already seen the film and like it- get it. If not, skip it.

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