Movie Name: Hail, Caesar!
Studio: Working Title Films
Release Date(s): February 1, 2016 (Premiere)/February 5, 2016 (US)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) rules Capitol Pictures with an iron fist. When problems arise, Mannix solves them. Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) is the studio’s biggest star and leading a big screen biblical film called Hail, Caesar! A Tale of the Christ, but he’s been kidnapped by a communist cell. Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) is a Western star tapped to become a big household name. DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) is a starlet “in trouble” who must cover her problem. These are all of Mannix’s problems and he must solve them before twin reporters Thora Thacker and Thessaly Thacker (Tilda Swinton). All of Mannix’s problems can go away however if he takes a high paying job offer…can he give it all up?
Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, Hail, Caesar! is a period comedy. The movie was released to mostly positive reviews and a strong box office return. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Production Design.
Coen Brothers are cinematic treasures…but they have a definite format. When you watch Hail, Caesar! you can tell you are watching a Coen Brothers film…but unfortunately it is a weaker attempt by the Coens.
The frustrating thing about Hail, Caesar! is that all the components of a good film are there. The old studio system, the secret lives of studio stars, Communism, and the idea that all of it is like a gangster film are all worth exploring but it feels like it is so chock-full plotlines that it feels that a lot of them get lost and are left undeveloped. The movie is actually too short for all its plots.
The cast is large and expansive and a lot of it goes to waste. Josh Brolin is kind of the star of the movie since the whole story wraps around his character and he is a good as the Godfather-esque studio head. Clooney is underused as the dense Baird. Scarlett Johansson’s unplanned pregnancy and Alden Ehrenreich’s cowboy Hobie (in Ralph Fiennes threatened picture) are underused. Tilda Swinton is fun as Thora and Thessaly but the undercover Channing Tatum really isn’t good past the clever dance number. Other appearances include Frances McDormand, Dolph Lungren, Clancy Brown, Robert Picardo, Christopher Lambert, Jonah Hill, and narrator Michael Gambon.
The movie does look great. The film has the glow of an old film, and the genre scenes are great. The Hobie’s western, the Roman epic, the dancing sailor film, and the great Esther Williams’ style “mermaid” film hit the films that were popular at the film Hail, Caesar! is supposed to take place…and the cheese factor that came with them.
Hail, Caesar! has all the styling and casting of a Coen Brothers film, but it doesn’t have the witty scripting that I generally like from a Coen Brothers movie. It feels like it is there but it just never rises above what I hope. Hail, Caesar! is a breezy film that goes by quickly but doesn’t offer as much as it could.