The latest film from the Coen bros. aims it’s sights on 1950’s-era Hollywood with a tale of kidnapping and mystery but left me questioning its biggest mystery, was it any good?
The story follows studio tough-guy and “fixer”, Eddie Mannix, as he keeps the movie productions churning and the stars happy while also keeping their public image intact for the papers. Whether its changing a singing cowboy’s image, navigating the murky legal waters of a starlet adopting her own child born out of wedlock, or hosting a meeting of religious leaders to ensure the studio’s latest biblical epic will have mass appeal by not offending any American regardless of religion or creed. But when the star of their epic is kidnapped by a shadowy group known as The Future, it’s up to Mannix to bring him back while also keeping everyone smiling and happy whether they like it or not.
The cast includes Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum and tons of other recognizable actors showing up in smaller roles. Nearly everyone involved has at least one memorable scene but it’s George Clooney as the kidnapped and clueless Baird Whitlock and Channing Tatum’s part as a musical sailor comedy star which stood out to me. (After seeing Tatum do his best Gene Kelley-act performing the film’s musical number sung “No Dames” sung by a club full of lonely sailors, I wonder if it’s too much to ask for a proper musical comedy that could satire all the old Hollywood tap-dancing films.) Unfortunately apart from Brolin, Clooney, and Ehrenreich nearly everyone else in the film feels like more of a distraction as they pop up and leave again without providing much of anything to the overall narrative. Speaking of which, apart from a few scenes such as the one where all the religious leaders are discussing the nature of God with Mannix or the one where Clooney is inducted into The Future’s communist propaganda, a lot of the film feels mostly directionless. A lot happens throughout the 106 minute runtime but pretty much every conflict that Mannix is involved with solves itself which left me wondering what was the point of it all as the credits ran. Perhaps that is the point, that despite all the colorful characters and events, every problem was solved by people just playing their parts. Don’t step outside the carefully produced box or else chaos will follow until someone slaps sense back into you and you fall back in line. Then again maybe its just a movie about a bunch of goofballs.
Despite its production’s wonderful attention to detail in bringing 50’s Hollywood to life, its highly entertaining cast, and handful of memorable scenes, “Hail, Caesar!” spends a little too much time meandering through its several subplots and never picks up much steam in its central story. (Unless that central story is meant to be meandering.) I enjoyed it but can’t strongly recommend it to anyone as anything outside of a rental.
By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48146489