In the most recent film from the Coen brothers, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is a Hollywood “fixer” helping the production of the film Hail Caesar, starring famous actor Baird Whitlock (George Clooney). When a drugged Whitlock is kidnapped by a group named The Future, Mannix is the one in charge of collecting $100,000 and rescuing him. This hilarious comedy also stars an ensemble of Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, and Frances McDormand.
Hail, Caesar! aspires to act as many things: a love letter to the golden age of Hollywood, a hilarious and insanely fun comedy, and an interesting look at Communist beliefs of Hollywood’ hypocrisy. Mostly, this movie succeeds at that. Hail, Caesar is the kind of movie that casts the most famous faces from other Coen brothers movies in only cameos, that has a lengthy but awesome dance number from Channing Tatum (which the other scenes have really nothing to do with), and that loses some sense in its climax with a goal to merely entertain. There was never a dull moment in the movie, I was always pulled in and very entertained. The directing is always spot-on. The tension is always built up perfectly, and every scene cuts to the next right when it needs to. The cinematography from Roger Deakins was great, and he helped bring the style of old Hollywood to life with his camerawork. There were some shots that really impressed me, a few longer than the others, and the cinematography barely ever felt out of place. The score also fits the theme of the movie, and doesn’t ever get too repetitive.
Josh Brolin delivers a spot-on performance as the lead, and he always entertains with his witty dialogue and charm. George Clooney was quite hilarious as a kidnapped actor, who shines in every scene he’s in. Alden Ehrenreich plays a cowboy actor in quite a funny role as well, and the small but more well-known ensemble are great. Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, and Channing Tatum were all so great in their small roles, and I loved the way their characters were handled. However, they could have been in the film for long, especially Johansson, to better handle their subplots. I loved all the visual imagery of the film, and like I said, it tries be many different things, and thankfully succeeds. The movie’s short length ultimately pays off, considering how silly and fun the final act turned out to be. In many ways, this movie reminds me of 2014’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, with both their ambition, comedic tone, witty screenplay, and relatively short runtimes. Both of them have early release dates, but they are both begging for Oscar love, that of which Grand Budapest Hotel has already received. Although the movie has a specific target audience, and may not be for everyone, I think most moviegoers will love Hail, Caesar! like I did.