February 11, 2016
In the early 1950s, Eddie Mannix is busy at work trying to solve all the problems of the actors and filmmakers at Capitol Pictures. His latest assignments involve a disgruntled director, a singing cowboy, a beautiful swimmer and a handsome dancer. As if all this wasn’t enough, Mannix faces his biggest challenge when Baird Whitlock gets kidnapped while in costume for the swords-and-sandals epic “Hail, Caesar!” If the studio doesn’t pay $100,000, it’s the end of the line for the movie star.
‘Hail, Caesar!’ or Fail, Caesar?
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.
The Coen brothers are back with ‘Hail, Caesar!’
Since 1984, the Coen brothers, Ethan and Joel Coen, have been writing and directing films, many of which are considered cult classics. Some of their most well-known movies are The Big Lebowski, Fargo, No Country for Old Men and O Brother, Where Art Thou? On Feb. 5, they released their newest film, Hail, Caesar!
Most of the Coens’ works are dramas or comedies, and Hail, Caesar! is most definitely a comedy. Ethan and Joel Coen have a strong sense of humor, and they even implement some jokes into their dramas. As for their comedies, they often have scenes so outrageous that they are bound to get a laugh out of anyone. Hail, Caesar! is no exception to this and it has several scenes that are memorable for their humor.
The film is about a day in the life of Eddie Mannix, played by Josh Brolin, who works at Capitol Pictures movie studio. He is a fixer, someone who has to keep the often less-than-pleasant private lives of stars away from the public. Mannix has to deal with an actress who is pregnant and does not know who the father is, an actor who is having trouble doing another genre, and even the studio’s biggest star being kidnapped by a group that calls themselves “The Future.” After all, it’s not a Coen film unless it involves a kidnapping or a ransom.
The movie’s cast includes many stars, such as Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum. Performances are great, especially from Brolin and from Alden Ehrenreich, who plays a cowboy-turned-actor.
Much like other Coen brothers’ films, Hail, Caesar! is filled with interesting and amusing characters. Tilda Swinton plays twin sisters Thora and Thessaly Thacker, who are journalists for dueling newspapers. Ralph Fiennes plays a director named Laurence Laurentz. Frances McDormand plays C.C. Calhoun, a chain-smoking film editor who works in a cramped room.
In a similar vein to The Big Lebowski, the movie has an anticlimactic ending. It sort of seems to fade away and then end. There is no major battle or revelation, as typical audiences would expect. This is an unorthodox way of wrapping up the plot, but it makes sense because after all, Hail, Caesar! is simply about a day in Mannix’s life, and there are no flashy endings in life.
Ethan and Joel Coen pull through yet again with Hail, Caesar!, which is worth watching for anyone who is looking for a good laugh.