An all-star cast directed by the Coen Brother’s about 1950s Hollywood. Yep, I had to see this.
Hail, Caesar! (2016) is a drama/comedy written, directed and produced by Joel and Ethan Coen, and stars Josh Brolin as Eddie Mannix, a studio ‘fixer’ in 1950s Hollywood. After star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) gets kidnapped off the set of the latest big-budget film ‘Hail, Caesar’ (that explains the name), Mannix must find the stolen actor and deal with all the typical problems with running a film studio all in one day.
As expected from talents such as the Coen brothers, there is some quality film-making on display here. A clever use of old-fashioned stylistic choices and the constant jutting in of old movies constantly bring some form of classical spectacle to the audience’s attention. There’s also plenty of well-written and downright hilarious characters, ranging from Clooney’s ludicrously oblivious Whitlock to Alden Ehrenreich’s stereotypical cowboy star Hobie Doyle. The only real issue in the script is how incredibly unfocused it feels. There’s around four different storylines constantly vying for attention, and the random interludes from other films makes the movie feel like it bouncing around on a plot pogo-stick. Certainly, all of the parts are well-written and shot, but cutting out a few unnecessary interludes could have helped the movie feel more concise. Oh, and there’s a ‘nuke the fridge’ moment at the end which is undoubtedly hilarious, but is also incredibly out of place.
It also seems like every second person in Hollywood wants to work with the Coens, because the amount of talented actors in this film is ridiculous. Allow me to list just the most prolific: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Frances McDormand (Woo, Fargo!) and so on. Damn. And all of them are awesome. Brolin is typically solid as the one source of sanity in the entire picture, Clooney and Ehrenreich as previously mentioned are hilarious, and the rest (while their screen time is limited), all make a solid impression.
So ultimately, Hail, Caesar, acts as a cynical pseudo-love letter from the Coen’s to 1950s Hollywood. Sure it can be unfocused and struggles to maintain audience investment at times, but the humour pathos and performances the Coen’s create are well worth the few script issues.
General Audiences: Recommended
Film Buffs: Highly Recommended