Arizona Dream DVD review

            It was thanks to John Waters and Tim Burton that Johnny Depp was able to escape the cover of Teen Beat to become the quirky actor that is now loved by a whole new generation of teens. In an attempt to avoid becoming the next heartthrob actor, Depp took strange roles in Cry Baby (1990) and Edward Scissorhands (1990). When those films worked well for him, it was on to more strange movies; Arizona Dream followed in the same year that Depp would also make Benny & Joon and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

This is the least remembered of Depp’s earlier films, and rightfully so. While there are moments which show Depp’s love of odd characters, it is mostly in voice-over and reaction shots. Axel Blackmar (Depp) is mostly an observer to the melodrama surrounding him in this surreal dramedy, giving Depp little to do but respond to the extreme behavior from the other characters. Everybody but Depp seems to be desperate to upstage the other actors. Sometimes this appears to be a part of the characters, and other times it seems like the actors.

Axel is stolen by his cousin (Vincent Gallo), taken from New York to Arizona to see his Uncle Leo (Jerry Lewis). His uncle is getting married to a young woman and somehow the passive Axel gets pulled into working at his car dealership and agreeing to be the best man in the wedding. Things get even stranger when Axel pursues an older woman (Faye Dunaway) who comes in to buy a car, only to discover he also has feelings for her suicidal daughter (Lili Taylor).

Arizona Dream is one of those weird little films that are hard to figure out. At times it is humorous, and other times it is just strange and sad. Because of the difficult classification, it is only now being released on DVD, exclusively through the Warner Brothers Archive Collection. The exclusive location for purchase is the Warner Archive site:

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