Film Review – Hail, Caesar! (2016)

George Clooney, Hail Caesar

Title – Hail, Caesar! (2016)

Director – The Coen Brothers (The Big Lebowski)

Cast – Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton

Plot – It’s the 1950’s America and Hollywood fixer Eddie Mannix (Brolin) must manoeuvre his way through the studio backlots and tinsel town surrounds to solve the mysterious kidnapping of A-list actor Baird Whitlock (Clooney) whose captors The Future hold possibly nefarious motivations.

“Would that it were so simple?”

Review by Eddie on 26/07/2016

Hail, Caesar!, a so called “screw-ball” Coen Brothers comedy which doubles up as a way for the Brothers to showcase their love for all things old school Hollywood, sees the two esteemed filmmakers get lost in themselves in largely boorish fashion with a cinematic experience that easily ranks amongst their most average of films.

This average experience stems from a film that is concerned almost exclusively with a narrative that has no real drive and no real reason to make us care and while loose narratives can work and have worked for the Coen’s with gems like The Big Lebowski and to a lesser extent Inside Llewyn Davis, Hail, Caesar! has neither the wit, charisma or characters to make this seem like anything more than the filmmakers excuse to do a few song and dance numbers and play dress ups with their A-list cast.

The plot, if there is actually such a thing harboured within the film, sees Josh Brolin’s lifeless studio fixer Eddie Mannix stumbling around studio backlots and seedy Chinese restaurants whilst George Clooney’s kidnapped actor Baird Whitlock converses with his academic captors over a few finger sandwiches. It’s a plot that’s not enough to hold our interest and a plot that never really allows any serious laughs in a film that should’ve had quite a few and while the film certainly looks lovely thanks to the to be expected great work of DOP Roger Deakin’s and the newly announced young Han Solo Alden Ehrenreich shows himself to be quite the find, Hail, Caesar! just never gels into a cohesive whole and feels like an experience of the Coen Brothers parodying themselves into a corner.

Hugely disappointing and entirely forgettable, Hail, Caesar! marks a low point in the Coen Brothers modern day repertoire and will surely go down as one of their greatest missed opportunities when all is considered from cast, setting right through to material that should’ve suited their unique sensibilities.

Saved from the doldrums thanks to some sporadic scenes of life and colour and some neat cameos from the Coen Brothers extensive list of A-list friends, Hail, Caesar! is hopefully a rare blip on the usually stellar Coen Brothers radar.

2 dangerously positioned scarf’s out of 5

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12 responses to “Film Review – Hail, Caesar! (2016)

  1. I, personally, found the film hysterical, but I’ll admit a lot of the jokes weren’t very accessible to a wide audience. One of the screenwriters, for example, was a clear parody of Noam Chomsky, but if you’re not familiar with his work then his dialogue wouldn’t be funny.

  2. This movie was a major disappointment for me. 1950’s Hollywood, Josh Brolin and the Coen Brothers? This should be a masterpiece. Alas, it was too good to be true. Great review.

  3. I don’t always get Coen movies on the first pass but am still strangely drawn to them like a moth around a flame for reasons I can’t explain, which leads me to rewatch them, then later love them. I was more disappointed with this than any other in memory. I’m not tempted to go back and watch it at this point. There’s probably an esoteric coded message in there somewhere that I’m missing but, bottom line, either it’s entertaining or it’s not. And this film was not for me. I think it’s time we saw George Clooney in some kind of majorly sick role becase I’m tired of his affected nice guy act and I think he plays dark better.
    Great review.

    • Cheers Doubt. I am a big Coen Brothers fan but your right this is not a film that really makes you want to get back to it, not often something associated with their works.
      E

      • Oh I love them too, they’re right up there with Kubrick, Mallick, Ashby, Spielberg and Sroccese for my money. All of whom have made the odd lemon.
        The only other Coen Brothers film I feel this way about is A Serious Man. I love all the rest for different reasons. I did initially struggle With Inside Llewyn Davis, but once I realised(a.k.a. someone spoonfed me!) what the hell was going on, I totally flipped on it and rewatched it a couple of times.
        Have you guys seen a film called Cashback? Likely too old for a film review site, but def worth a watch if you haven’t seen it.
        Keep on knocking out diamond reviews.

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