[REVIEW] Hail, Caesar!
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By: Joe Jodoin
Hail, Caesar! had everything going for it — a great trailer, a great premise, an incredible cast, and the beloved Coen brothers serving as both the writers and directors. Sadly, the movie just doesn’t work. It has some redeeming qualities of course, but it’s just not entertaining or memorable enough to warrant a recommendation.
Hail, Caesar! constantly switches between being comedic and being dramatic, but it doesn’t succeed at either. While at times the movie is funny, these times are few and far between.
The movie takes place in the 1950s, and loosely revolves around the daily life of Eddie Mannix, a Hollywood ‘fixer’ for Capitol Pictures, played by Josh Brolin. His job is keep the actors and movies free of controversy. This leads to Mannix interacting with all sorts of different characters, one of which is the lead actor in a big Roman epic called Hail Caesar, a Tale of Christ’s Life. The actor, played by George Clooney, is kidnapped by some extras, leading to the main mystery of the movie.
Unfortunately, the movie’s plot just consists of a bunch of different sub-plots, none of which are very interesting. None of the stories have a decent resolution, so you are left feeling very unsatisfied when the film ends. The movie also doesn’t use all of the talent it has. This is noticeable especially when looking at Jonah Hill, who was in all the trailers and promotion but only had five lines in the movie.
Hail, Caesar! constantly switches between being comedic and being dramatic, but it doesn’t succeed at either. While at times the movie is funny, these times are few and far between. This movie is truly unlike any other movie that I have ever seen, but even though originality is usually a compliment, Hail, Caesar! ends up being entirely forgettable.
Despite the movie’s many weaknesses, it has some partially redeeming qualities as well. The best aspect by far is that it succeeds at being a love letter to classic Hollywood cinema. It pays tribute to every different kind of genre film, and pays respect to the thousands of people involved in making each one of these movies a reality. There was also a neat message about how the problems Hollywood faced back in the 50s are essentially the same as they are today.
In addition to Brolin and Clooney, the other big standout of the film is Alden Ehrenreich, who plays an actor struggling to transition from the Western genre to making his first sophisticated drama. He has never had any substantial movie roles in the past, but if this movie is any indication, Ehrenreich is incredibly talented and looks to have a huge career ahead of him.
Overall, I’m really disappointed to hate on a film that was clearly made with so much passion and effort. This is one of those movies that sounds great on paper, and if anyone could have pulled it off, it would be the Coen brothers. Sadly, some screenplays just don’t translate well onto the big screen, and I just can’t say this is a film worth watching.