The Coen Brothers and I have a unique history. I have tremendous respect for them as filmmakers; they bring out the best in the actors working with them; their films always display great writing, great set designs, beautiful musical scores, and above-average directing. However, the endings to their films have always driven me crazy. It’s as if they reach the end of a good film and then want to start messing around with the audience for their own amusement. Going into ‘Hail, Caesar!’, I expected a pretty decent film in many ways; all complete with a strange or unsatisfying ending. Personally, I left this film rather satisfied, but I know there were others who wanted more out of the film.
There are a hell of a lot of storylines in this movie, but the main one is about Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), who finds out his studio’s big star, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) has gone missing. They suspect he is on some debaucherous tirade, but it turns he is actually the victim of a “kidnapping”. Now, Eddie and a wide-range of others look to uncover his location and rescue him before the studio’s biggest film is ruined.
Let’s get the flaws of this movie out of the way. This film had a lot of characters – so many in fact that most became rather redundant. A few help to recreate the setting of this era in movie history well enough, but didn’t add much else to the actual plot. I’m okay with having some secondary characters, but a couple of them could have been used more and improved the entertainment value of the film. For instance, Ralph Fiennes and Scarlett Johansson should and could have both been used far more and it’s a shame to see their talents wasted. The other complaint I have is that the tone changes drastically at times, making the film a little uneven when it goes from serious to funny, to awkward, to borderline religious, so fast that you barely have time to adjust to these changes. It throws you off somewhat, but aside from this, the movie was solid.
All of the acting in the film was very good. Even Channing Tatum did well for what his role asked for, but the guy that stood out above all others was Josh Brolin as Eddie. He nailed this role and was the perfect choice to portray that old school Hollywood tough-guy from the 1950’s. I enjoyed the comedic element to the film, but it was a very dry humour. I found ‘Hail, Caesar!’ to be a brilliant satire on classic movies and how they were produced, toying with how actors and actresses were treated and showing how tedious it could be to make a film. I actually really enjoy classic movies, but not every classic should be considered timeless by any means. This film certainly presented some of the silliness that went on in the movie industry (and in some cases, still goes on today). Typically, Ethan and Joel Coen have pulled it out of the bag once again when it comes to the writing and accompanying musical score, and actually, just about all other aspects were done really well.
I enjoyed ‘Hail, Caesar!’, but I do think it was lacking consistency and the poor handling of some of the on-screen talent was really frustrating. I wouldn’t say it was a “film for the ages”, but there’s certainly enough there to warrant a viewing. This film has clever satire and presented a lot of dry humour, which I personally enjoyed. If you’re after a decent comedy to watch (and lord knows they’re hard to come by), you should give ‘Hail, Caesar!’ a chance.
Director(s): Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Starring: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill