Does The Coen Brothers’ take on old Hollywood live up to their past achievements?
Set in 1951, Hail, Caesar! centers around a studio “manager”, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), whose job it is to keep the actors in line as their constant personal lives force pictures to come to a standstill. Mannix a “devout” Catholic, or someone who just fills the guilt of God, goes to Confession everyday to save him from the sins he has committed between the few hours he had last seen the priest. It’s a funny touch, seeing as Mannix mostly spends his time at the Capitol Pictures studio lot. However, when famous actor, Baird Whitlock, is kidnapped and held for ransom, Mannix is sent on a goose chase, trying to find out who kidnapped the beloved star.
Hail, Caesar! is a funny film, but beyond that, it is sometimes confusing. The plot of the film is not one that you will get right away, because it is layered with a deeper meaning. I will say that The Coen Brothers did a fantastic job at paying homage to the great genres of the 1950s. For instance, the film introduces us to Hobie Doyle, played by the perfect Alden Ehrenreich. Doyle, who plays a Roy Rogers type character, is moved up to star in a dramatic film, directed by famous director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes). The conversations between Doyle and Laurentz are by far the funniest scenes of the film. But as the film progresses, we are introduced to more stunning talents around the studio lot. DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson), who seemed to have a mouth like Katherine Hepburn, and Burt Burney (Channing Tatum), who mirrored Gene Kelley’s dancing. The dancing scene with Tatum is almost reason enough for some to go out and see this film. Almost…
With The Coen Brothers’ directing style and Roger Deakins as head of cinematography, this film becomes very well made. However, it was things like the plot and the film score that prevented this movie from exceeding my expectations. Hail, Caesar! is not in anyway a bad film, but this is no where close to being one of The Coen Brothers’ bests. This film is more of an homage to the films these two brothers worshiped as children. From spaghetti westerns to musicals to dramas, every genre is beautifully respected.
Written and Directed by: Joel and Ethan Coen
Starring: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, and Channing Tatum