Plot: Cassie (Rosemarie DeWitt) works hard as a realtor and as a single mother, but she is in over her head and sinking fast, as she is buried in debt and desperate to find some kind of way to climb out. Her ex husband (Luke Wilson) has moved on and lives with a much younger, model type woman and even at work, Cassie finds no relief as her boss (Seth Rogen) is a total asshole and the housing developments they represent are a sham at best. Even Cassie herself bought into his sales pitch, which saw her overpay for a mediocre house that dropped in value nearly overnight and left the owners with deep financial woes. When a disgruntled client Sonny (Danny McBride) comes in to complain about being hoodwinked by his deceptive sales tactics, Cassie’s boss winds up in a scuffle and knocked over a railing, taking a steep fall. As it turns out, he is killed by the fall and Sonny begins to unravel in the wake of the accident…
Entertainment Value: This is a pitch black comedy that wades into serious social issues, from the housing crash to abusive behavior to mental health concerns, the kind of movie where you almost feel bad if you laugh, but the writing is so sharp and on point, you can’t help but be entertained. A lot of dark comedies made around this time have struggled to push through into the really dark areas, opting to play it safe and keep the darkness reeled in. But Arizona is relentless and ruthless, going for broke with dark, downbeat, and tragic elements, all framed in an absurd yet somehow believable approach. So it feels over the top and out of control, but given the characters and circumstances involved, it isn’t hard to see these kind of stressed out, pushed to the brink people trapped in this scenario. If you need your heart warmed or want to leave with a feel good vibe, Arizona isn’t going to do that, as it wants to make you laugh at some horrific bursts of humor, while also soaking in a downbeat, brutal narrative that never eases up. This is likely offend most at one point or another, or just alienate some due to how oppressive the dark humor is, but for those who appreciate a ride through hell, Arizona more than delivers.
This one has a colorful, eclectic ensemble involved, with Danny McBride and Rosemarie DeWitt in the most prominent roles. McBride has a character similar to the ones he is best known for playing, so he is a natural as a self absorbed, impulsive asshole and brings a lot to the part. I also think McBride is a great fit for this kind of dark humor, as he seems at home in grim, but still hilarious situations like these, though this is beyond the darkness of most of his previous work. He makes the most of the dialogue and even simple conversations have memorable moments thanks to his presence, so he is a crucial part of why Arizona works so well. DeWitt is also quite good as a struggling woman in way over her head, as she captures the essence of the trapped, desperate character, while still pushing forward through the chaos. I was glad to see her given this kind of lead role, as she is often relegated to smaller parts and she shines here, so I hope she is offered more leads down the road. The cast also includes David Alan Grier, Luke Wilson, Seth Rogen, Kaitlin Olson, and Elizabeth Gillies.
The Disc: Arizona was given the 4k treatment by RLJE Films, in a transfer that looks quite good, but doesn’t offer much of an improvement over the also included Blu-ray disc. The image is sharp and well detailed, but the fine detail and depth don’t benefit much from the added resolution here. The colors are natural and contrast is quite good, so the movie looks good here, but again, some might be let down by the minimal uptick from the 4k presentation. The extras include a promotional look behind the scenes and the film’s trailer.