On The Couch #17: Raising Arizona

If this week has taught me anything, it’s that Nicolas Cage isn’t the best father-figure out there. The question isn’t if he’s a bad movie-father (he’s not); it’s in which movie is he a worse father, as Kick-Ass’s Big Daddy or Raising Arizona’s H.I. “Call me Hi” McDunnough?

Round 1: In the Beginning…

Let’s start out with his past life. In both Kick-Ass and Raising Arizona, Nic Cage plays a former inmate. Kick Ass’s Damon Macready, the man who will one day become Big Daddy, was an honest cop set-up by a dirty cop on bogus drug charges and gets sent to maximum security prison.

In Raising Arizona, Hi McDunnough is in and out of jail constantly for smaller crimes, but they are crimes he actually committed, so we’ll have to give him the point.

Someone skipped career day. 

Winner*: Hi McDunnough!
*Winning in these categories isn’t a good thing.

Round 2: Looks

Hi McDunnough – creepy moustache, weird haircut.

I call it Wolverine-chic.

Big Daddy – creepy moustache, cosplay outfit.

 “Okay, honey. Time for daddy to teach you about eyeliner.”

Winner: Tie!

Round 3: Parenting Style

Big Daddy is very hands on. He makes his daughter memorize details about weapons and shoots her while she’s wearing a bullet-proof vest, because when you’re training your daughter to become a deadly avenger of the night, preparation is everything.

Hi is the opposite. Call him too laid back, but you have to give him credit in that he never fires live rounds at Nathan Jr.

Leaving the baby in the middle of a highway might cost you a point.

Winner: Big Daddy!

Round 4: Known Associates

On Big Daddy’s side, you have Kick-Ass, who is about as useful as the Hi’s pals the Snoats brothers, but with worse hair. Then there’s Red Mist, who also like the Snoats brothers can’t be trusted. Big Daddy has a cop in his corner, his former partner who attempts to double as his conscious. Unlike Hi, Big Daddy has Hit-Girl in his corner, who has to be the baddest-ass middle school kid outside of my favorite Japanese novel Battle Royale.

This book is awesome. Just skip the movie version; it’s crap. 

On Hi’s side, you have Ed McDunnough, Hi’s wife. She’s a former cop, that’s a plus. And then you have his two jailhouse buddies, Gale and Evelle Snoats. If you were to judge a man based on the rockabillyness of his hair, then Gale would be considered a titan. But really, these guys are so bumbling, they make Hi look highly educated. And they can’t be trusted. But their double-cross doesn’t lead to Hi’s demise, so…

Winner: Big Daddy!

Round 5: Enemies

A man’s enemy can put his family in danger. Just ask Hit-Girl as she was being shot through an open window. Big Daddy is taking on the mafia. As far as NY crime goes, that’s about as big as it gets. He also has to contend with double-crossing heroes and people constantly telling him that he ripped off his look from Batman.

Seriously man, you owe Batman some royalties.

Hi McDunnough has the law to contend with, but the law in his locale shoots as straight as a Cobra trooper. But hot on his heels is The Lone Biker of the Apocalypse. He looks like an extra from Mad Max, bleeds fire, and is armed to the teeth. He even wears a pair of ashen baby sneakers on his chest like a trophy. The guy is hardcore. I would prefer to go up against the combined organized crime families of Kick-Ass, The Sopranos and The Simpsons before facing The Lone Biker of The Apocalypse.

While it looks badass, it turns out strapping grenades to yourself isn’t the best idea.

Winner: H.I. McDunnough!

Round 6: The Kids are Alright

In the end, the best way to judge someone’s parenting skills? Check out the kids. Nathan Jr. goes on to be a star football player in school and gets into college. Hit-Girl ends up attending middle school with Kick-Ass as a normal girl, though one who doesn’t take any crap from bullies. Both kids seem reasonably well-rounded. Sure, Hit-Girl is going to have some very costly therapy sessions later in life, but with parents like the Arizonas, the same could be said for Nathan Jr.

Catholic school is a lot tougher than it was in my day.

What’s really interesting is that in both cases, Nic Cage gives up his parenting duties. I think even he knows he’s a bad father. Hi McDunnough returns Nathan Jr. to the Arizona family and Big Daddy also relinquishes his parenting duties, though not by his own choice. In the end, the result is the same: No Nic Cage = well adjusted child.

Winner: Tie!

Tallying that all up, we have 4 points for Hi McDunnough and 4 points for Big Daddy.

It looks like we have a tie! That’s right, if you’re in a movie where Nic Cage is your father, run and don’t look back, because chances are, you’re not going to have a good childhood. Especially if he has a creepy moustache.