Score: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
This is film review 5
Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, and an all-star cast in a Coen Brothers movie sounds genius. I mean, the Coen Brothers are the guys who brought us ‘Raising Arizona’, ‘Fargo’, and ‘The Big Lebowski’, so they seem like they have hit the jackpot with ‘Hail, Caesar!’, right? According to my scale and what I thought about it, it’s average with hints of goodness, but it’s not quite there in terms of greatness.
The trailer for ‘Hail, Caesar!’ got me really excited for what was to come; the plot looked intriguing with a hint of mystery and the all-star cast that seemed perfect for these roles. You have Josh Brolin literally playing detective, and a kidnapping subplot which would shake Hollywood to its knees. It turns out that the result was less than expected.
‘Hail, Caesar!’ takes place at Capital Pictures Studios (a.k.a. the same studio in ‘Barton Fink’; another Coen Brothers film, and one that is lesser known) where a production of the epic biblical film ‘Hail, Caesar: A Tale of the Christ’ is taking place. The particular film stars Baird Whitlock (Clooney) as a Roman soldier. While shooting during production, Whitlock gets drugged and then kidnapped by a group who call themselves The Future.
What is The Future? That’s for Eddie Mannix (Brolin) to find out. Mannix is a fixer who does his best to make sure no scandal hits the gossip columns either reported by twins Thora and Thessaly Thacker (Tilda Swinton in both roles). Mannix receives a note from The Future asking for ransom money; a total amount of $100,000. While he does that, he also has to deal with his Hollywood and personal life. Mannix is a smoker who is trying to quit for his wife (Allison Pill), but is tired of lying to her, causing him to go to confession.
Meanwhile in Hollywood, other problems have occurred; actress DeeAnna Morgan (Johansson) is expecting a baby which could cause a problem to Capital; actor Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) has been hired to star in a film adaptation of Broadway musical ‘Merrily, We Dance’, directed by Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes). The problem is: Doyle is not a great actor in the opinion of Laurentz.
‘Hail, Caesar!’ also stars Channing Tatum as Burt Gurney, an actor starring in a musical with sailors; Jonah Hill as fall guy Joseph Silverman, who gets involved in Morgan’s plot to adopt a baby; and Frances McDormand as film editor C. C. Calhoun. ‘Hail, Caesar!’ has some star power to it, but where are they? You’d think the celebrities involved would play a huge part in this movie (some do), but they are just there to be in the movie. Other disappointing things about ‘Hail, Caesar!’ is how jumbled it can be at times, going from one film set to another to get Whitlock back; some of the snippets in the trailer didn’t feel like they were in the actual movie; and also not to spoil anything, but The Future disappointed me.
‘Hail, Caesar!’ is rushed at times (including where Swinton literally just shows up out of nowhere in a couple of her scenes). But it is a beautiful, lovely, and the funniest film from the Coen Brothers I have seen yet. It feels like a Mel Brooks movie, even though it’s the Coens. What ‘Hail, Caesar!’ does is take audiences back to the 50’s with its large scale shots, jumbled plot, and ridiculous over-the-top acting fit for a film released in the 50’s. Despite its many flaws, I had fun with ‘Hail, Caesar!’. Tip for the ladies: If you want to see sailors dance while hearing Channing Tatum sing, this is the movie for you.