‘Hail, Caesar!’ or Fail, Caesar?


photo courtesy of collider.com

The Coen brothers’ most recent film is far below the standard of entertainment we’ve come to expect from the visionary storytellers.

Vache Sarkissian, Website Editor

It’s no secret that Joel and Ethan Coen are among the greatest storytellers in cinematic history. When one looks at the filmography of these two masterminds of film titles such as Barton Fink, Fargo, The Big Lebowski and No Country for Old Men, it’s difficult not to expect a mind-blowing experience when going to the theater to watch one of their films.

As a huge fan of these two pioneers of storytelling, it brings me no pleasure at all to say that Hail, Caesar! is a boring, frivolous and painfully disappointing shot in the dark. It pains me to even write this review because these two filmmakers are so special to me — I’ve probably seen The Big Lebowski 50 times — and they deserve so much more.

Despite the outstanding cast including Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes and Scarlett Johansson, the film still amounts to absolutely nothing of significance. This film is honestly so bad that these actors shouldn’t have been allowed to be in it. With such an amazing cast, it seems like it would be harder to make a boring movie than it would to make an interesting one.

The problem with the film is that it never finds its place. It doesn’t know what it’s trying to do or what its purpose is. At times, the film is just trying so hard to be funny, and even when the film tries to be serious, it just makes no sense. Hail, Caesar! is essentially an hour and 46 minutes of Josh Brolin being constantly stressed out and trying (but failing) to quit smoking, a big-shot western movie star (Alden Ehrenreich) making a lasso out of spaghetti, George Clooney dressed up as Caesar conversing with some Communist writers, and Scarlett Johansson in a mermaid costume.

Out of the sliver of respect I still hold onto for the Coen brothers because of The Big Lebowski, I will say that the only positive things about this movie are the great set design (although it’s hard to tell how much of it is real) and Clooney’s performance, which, although just as aimless as the rest of the film, is quite charming and fun. It quite honestly seems like the Coen’s wrote and directed Hail, Caesar! on a strict deadline. Either that or they really just didn’t care about this quality of the film.

I made the mistake of seeing this movie in the middle of the day on a Monday in Pasadena, so naturally, the theater was almost entirely filled with seniors. Maybe they know something I don’t, but a huge majority of them were howling with laughter almost the entire time. I’m not entirely sure if that’s the age demographic the Coen brothers’ were aiming for, but at least someone liked it.

No one is more upset about this film than I am, but the truth can’t be avoided. What can we learn from Hail, Caesar? Even the most brilliant creative minds have the capacity for the most horrific blunders. For their own sake, hopefully the next Coen brothers movie will be among their greatest.


Rating: 4/10