So, I’m not sure if anybody really remembers a time in the not-so-distant-past (2000 to be exact) when David Gordon Green came onto the scene as a director to watch in 2000’s George Washington. Being from the South, I immediately appreciated this look into the other side of Southern culture, that isn’t all about football, sweet tea, and gentility. He followed the indie hit with a highly underrated romantic black comedy called All The Real Girls which featured great performances from Zoey Deschanel, Greene favorite Paul Schneider, and the debut performance of one of my favorite comedic actors to ever walk the face of the Earth, Danny McBride.

Ever since seeing All The Real Girls, in which his character was named “Bust-Ass”, I have followed him almost religiously and have seen almost every movie or television show in which McBride has ever starred. Except for like Aloha and the Minions movies because sorry but the minions drive me insane and kind of scare me so I don’t know if I’ll ever see those movies, regardless of how good they may or may not be. Otherwise, though, Danny McBride is just a FORCE. Every film that he stars in is all the better for it (except Sausage Party, which I maintain is the worst film of all time, but moving on).

ARIZONA is no exception to this rule I’ve made. While the protagonist of this film is definitely Cassie (Rosemarie DeWitt; Black Mirror: Arkangel, United States of Tara), Danny McBride’s performance as the antagonist, Sonny, is what makes this movie funny, when the events that occur in the film are definitely not.

ARIZONA is set in Harding, Arizona in 2009 right after the housing bubble abruptly burst and thousands of people across the country started losing their homes. Cassie is a realtor in the midst of this debacle. Ironically, she’s about to lose her home as well, which is a nightmare considering she recently divorced her husband, Scott (Luke Wilson) because he cheated on her with a younger woman named Kelsey (Elizabeth Gillies; Vacation) and is raising her 14 year old daughter alone in this small town in the middle of the desert (the film was actually shot in Santa Clarita, California).

In the midst of showing a home to a wealthy couple, we hear screams coming from the next house over. The owner of that home is attempting to hang himself, because he can’t afford the mortgage payments either. Cassie can’t seem to sell a house to save her life, and her daughter is not a huge fan of hers, since she is a teenager, after all. So, Cassie is feeling very depressed. She goes to her office after dropping her daughter off at school. There we meet her very unpleasant boss, Gary, who was the one who sold her the house she’s defaulting on currently. It’s a wonderful cameo, but I’m not going to tell you who plays it, because you need to see for yourself.

During an argument, a man enters the office and starts arguing with Gary. That man is Sonny (McBride), who is fed up with just about everything. He’s having his Michael Douglas-in-Falling Down moment, and has absolutely run out of fucks to give. Sonny’s wife, Vicki (brilliantly played by Kaitlyn Olson, otherwise known as Dee on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) left him for the guy from the pool company. He also, is about to lose his home.  Things take a dark (er) turn incredibly quickly, and soon enough Cassie finds herself as Sonny’s hostage. Sonny is not the most intelligent criminal, and a lot of mistakes, some deadly, some just plain stupid, are made.

The film’s plot is nothing new but the dialogue and performances, especially from McBride, Dewitt, Gillies, Olson, the mystery guest, and the brief but hilarious cameo from David Alan Grier (who is a living legend, in my opinion, most well known for In Living Color and The Carmicheals) all but make up for any exciting new twists on the hostage movie. Overall, I would say that this movie is a strong directorial debut for Jonathan Watson, who has been a First AD on such shows and movies as This Is the End, The Interview, East Bound & Down, Vice Principals, etc.  The script, written by Luke Del Tredici, who previously wrote teleplays for such great shows as Bored to Death, 30 Rock, and (one of my absolute favorite television shows currently in production) Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The humor in ARIZONA is reminiscent of these shows, especially Nine-Nine, which I enjoyed very much.

I would definitely suggest seeing this movie if you are a big Danny McBride fan, because he is just Danny McBriding all over the place. I know that there are some people out there who don’t particularly enjoy him, and while I think you’re dead wrong, I will advise you not to watch this film if you don’t. Because this film is kind of his playground, which is odd, because I feel as though we’re supposed to be rooting for Cassie, but at the end of the day, Sonny is the more interesting character; almost-but-not-quite like Anton Shugur in No Country For Old Men, but funnier, and way more talkative. The two characters do share rather regrettable hairstyles though.

I’m not going to say that this movie is groundbreaking or the best film of the year or anything like that, but it is a super fun, ultra violent, extremely dark comedy that you should check out if you’re a fan of that sort of thing.

ARIZONA will be released in theaters, on VOD and Digital HD on August 24th

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Lorry Kikta is a writer living in Queens, New York, originally from Atlanta, Georgia who loves Lars Von Trier, though sometimes against her better judgment. In addition to writing film reviews for NC and other sites such as FilmThreat, she writes essays and poetry that have been published in various print and online publications. You can find her reading her poems or djing all over NYC. While she's not doing that, she's watching movies or writing her screenplay on her couch at home, with her boyfriend Greg and cat Peanut by her side.
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