Plot: Jenny (Lolita Davidovich) seems to have a great life, as she is a successful physician and her husband Carter (John Lithgow) is a child psychologist, though he is taking time off to raise their child. He even plans to turn his experiences as a full-time father into a book or perhaps even a series of books, inspired by the work of his own father, who had success in the same field. So Jenny’s life appears quite content, but when she runs into a a former flame in Jack (Steven Bauer), she is drawn to him once more and on impulse, sets a horrific chain of events into motion. Soon Carter begins a downward spiral of dark, epic proportions and the once happy couple is launched into an abyss that will change things forever.
Entertainment Value: I rewatched both cuts of Raising Cain for this review and while the fan created director’s cut is interesting, I still prefer the theatrical version and its blunt approach. The director’s cut is more subtle and offers a satisfying slow burn, but to me, the draw here is John Lithgow and to shelve him for so long is a crime, so I prefer the original version. But both are rock solid and the real shift is chronological, so it is the same narrative, spun in a new order. I just love Lithgow in this movie, as he throws off the shackles of restrain and goes balls deep into a wild, manic, and ridiculous effort that is insane to watch. He devours scenes and while he does dial up the melodrama and camp, he still provides an effective sense of menace and more to the point, a persona of total chaos and unpredictability. Frances Sternhagen is also quite memorable, while Mel Harris, Lolita Davidovich, Steven Bauer, and Gregg Henry have prominent roles. I think whichever version you choose, the movie is a fun, melodramatic thriller that makes little to no sense, but is still a great ride. Sometimes you want a balls to the wall, gonzo thriller and Raising Cain is happy to oblige.
No nakedness. A couple scenes that tease a little sleaze, but no such luck. As for blood, the movie steers clear of graphic violence and leans more on atmosphere and tension, but one scene does have a nasty knife wound. So a little bloodshed, but not much of the red stuff to be seen here. The dialogue is melodramatic and fun, especially with Lithgow engaged in wild conversations with himself as various personalities. This is high camp of course, but it is a blast to watch and as I said before, Lithgow is still able to convey the unstable, dangerous presence of the role. I don’t think many quotable lines pop up, but there’s enough manic, ham handed moments to earn some points, with Lithgow chewing up the script like a madman. As for craziness, the movie has that unsettling vibe and while it is defused a little by the over the top approach, Lithgow’s performance and the general madness put some points on the board.
Overall Insanity: 4/10