Skip to main content

ARIZONA: A First Time Director w/ 25 years Experience Leads Danny McBride to a Career Best Performance



2018
DIRECTOR: Jonathan Watson
WRITER: Luke Del Tredici
CAST: Danny McBride, Rosemarie DeWitt, Luke Wilson, Elizabeth Gillies and Kaitlin Olson

The Story

Cassie (Rosemarie DeWitt) has seen better days. As a single mom and real estate agent in the midst of the housing crisis of 2009, she struggles to keep her head above water. She shares custody of her 14-year-old daughter with her ex-husband Scott (Luke Wilson) and continually dodges calls from collection agencies. Being 6 months behind on the mortgage and trying to play nice with an ex who left her for a woman half his age is the perfect recipe for desperation.

Any problems Cassie thought she had were pleasant distractions in comparison to what happens after she meets Sonny (Danny McBride). He is a violently disgruntled homeowner whose life is falling apart. After an unfortunate encounter with Cassie's Boss (Seth Rogen), he decides to take her along as he spirals out of control. Sonny purchased a home and feels that he was tricked into the transaction. He was lied to about the potential return on investment and the stability of variable interest rates.

His home sits on the back nine of an unfinished golf course in a sprawling but mostly abandoned housing development. He needs time to cool off and collect his thoughts, but he keeps making rash decisions that only cause more damage. He is his own worst enemy desperately looking for someone to share the blame with.

The Cast


Danny McBride is an actor, writer, and producer best known for his roles in EASTBOUND AND DOWN, PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, and THIS IS THE END. McBride often plays characters who are overfilled with undeserved confidence and act in unforgivable ways. On paper, there is no way a character like Kenny Powers from EASTBOUND AND DOWN should work but, McBride somehow pulls it off.

In ARIZONA, McBride approaches his character from a slightly different angle and turns in one of his best performances to date. In a scene where Sonny kills his wife, he looks to Cassie and says "what have we done?" Cassie had nothing to do with the crime and in that brief exchange, McBride perfectly encapsulates this broken man. He desperately needs someone to share the blame with. He has destroyed his marriage and his financial future and is unable to face the grim reality he now inhabits.

That lack of confidence and desire to ration out responsibility are what drive this deeply depraved man-child. He will never own up to anything he has done and will always find a way to point a finger. The thing that makes McBride's other characters work is the very thing that makes his turn as Sonny so downright scary. No matter how ridiculous the situation or batshit crazy the character he has a way of breathing life into the absurd.



Rosemarie Dewitt is tasked with playing the grounded straight man to McBride's off the rails lunatic. It could be a thankless role but she is able to give her character humanity and complexity that is often lacking in genre films. It's not just the situation she is in the garners sympathy, but the way she portrays Cassie. She shows her as flawed and accessible with enough strength to allow for her eventual comeuppance over Sonny.

The Director

Jonathan Watson has been making a name for himself as one of the most sought-after second unit directors for the last 25 years. Working on everything from THE GREEN MILE to THE GREEN HORNET, Watson has patiently waited for his chance to helm a project while developing his skill set under directors like Damien Chazelle, Jon McTiernan, and Michael Bay.

When an opportunity presented itself to work with Danny McBride and Jody Hill on the second season of EASTBOUND AND DOWN, Watson turned down another big-budget action spectacle for a couple months in Puerto Rico with the creative team behind THE FIST FOOT WAY, OBSERVE AND REPORT, and JOE. This decision was contentious enough that Watson looked for new representation when his manager didn't understand why he would turn down a blockbuster for an HBO comedy series. For Watson the decision was simple, he thought the first season of EASTBOUND AND DOWN was one of the funniest things he'd ever seen and he'd give anything to work with those guys.

That relationship eventually led to McBride tapping Watson for ARIZONA.

Conclusion

ARIZONA is a satisfying homage to John Carpenter that uses the housing crisis of 2009 as it's dystopian backdrop. Tonal shifts can often destroy what's working with a film, but Watson manages to navigate ARIZONA's many personalities with a seamless grace. The film moves from a pitch black comedy to an outright thriller without dropping gears to propel itself forward. A rare accomplishment that might only be possible when you have a cast and director as talented as this.


IN THEATERS AND AVAILABLE ON VOD AND DIGITAL HD: August 24, 2018

Popular posts from this blog

THE FIRE THAT TOOK HER Trailer and Release Info

  The Fire That Took Her: Mother-of-two, Judy Malinowski, was doused in gasoline and set on fire by her crazed ex-boyfriend. She would go on to set new legal precedent, becoming the first woman to testify at the trial for her own muder. THE FIRE THAT TOOK HER goes inside her landmark case to ask a timely question: How much must women suffer in order to be believed? Opening In Theaters October 21st, 2022

Following Films Podcast: Malcom Goodwin on REACHER

Today I'm joined by actor Malcolm Goodwin to discuss his role in the upcoming Amazon Prime series REACHER REACHER follows Jack Reacher (Alan Ritchson), a veteran military police investigator who has just recently entered civilian life. Reacher is a drifter, carrying no phone and the barest of essentials as he travels the country and explores the nation he once served. When Reacher arrives in the small town of Margrave, Georgia, he finds a community grappling with its first homicide in 20 years. The cops immediately arrest him and eyewitnesses claim to place Reacher at the scene of the crime. While he works to prove his innocence, a deep-seated conspiracy begins to emerge, one that will require Reacher’s keen mind and hard-hitting fists to deal with. One thing above all is for sure: They picked the wrong guy to take the fall.

War Machine vs. War Horse: Miss Sloane (Bowling for Columbine vs. Runaway Jury)

Inspired by new release MISS SLOANE we attempt to control gun control cinema as seen in the Michael Moore documentary BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE and the John Grisham film adaptation of RUNAWAY JURY. To take on such heavy hitters as Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman we need  Dwight Hurst of The Broken Brain podcast , and  a huge fan of The West Wing in Ben Zuk  to walk and talk with Jessica Chastain. ALSO: We propose MySpace as a place for former jury fixers to find their next gig.