Hail, Caesar!

"Excellent"

Hail, Caesar! Review


An intelligent ode to a time when Hollywood made wildly inventive movies without pressure from focus groups, there's a serious edge to what superficially looks like a madcap comical romp. But this isn't one of Joel and Ethan Coen's nutty comedies. It's a pointed exploration of the collision between art and commerce, assembled as a sprawlingly entertaining ensemble movie packed with lively, often hilarious characters.

It's set over 24 hours at Capitol Pictures in 1951 as studio minder Eddie (Josh Brolin) tries to keep several movies in production despite a series of hitches, while twin gossip columnists (two Tilda Swintons) try to get a scoop. Top movie star Baird (George Clooney) has been kidnapped by communist writers from the set of his Roman epic. Water-ballet diva DeeAnna (Scarlett Johansson) is pregnant and unapologetically unmarried. And rising-star Hobie (Alden Ehrenreich) is struggling to make the transition from Western action hero to chamber room drama, clashing with his demanding new director Laurence (Ralph Fiennes). Meanwhile, song-and-dance man Burt (Channing Tatum) is up to something on the set of his sailor musical. With all of this, Eddie begins to think that maybe he should take the offer of a job outside the film industry.

As the movie darts between these various productions, the Coens gleefully reinvent this series of genres that have essentially died out. Yes, the film is a pointed depiction of how Hollywood used to make a wide array of movies for much broader audiences. Each sequence is written and directed with witty details that perfectly catch the way the chaos of a film set can be transformed into a glamorous motion picture in time for the starry red-carpet premiere. And the entire cast rises to the challenge. Clooney is terrific as the dim-witted star who hasn't a clue what's happening around him. Ehrenreich shows real charm as a smart kid struggling in an insane situation. Brolin holds things together in a surprisingly sympathetic role, while Swinton, Johansson and Fiennes add plenty of spark, and the film is stolen by Frances McDormand as a spiky film editor.

Despite the continually funny moments, the film is more of a wry drama than a wacky comedy. This is because there are all kinds of undercurrents swirling through each scene. Characters aren't as simplistic as they seem to be, while the central mystery has something important to say to Hollywood today. The Coens are poking fun at the ideals of both communism and capitalism, astutely exploring motivations and meaning. And while giving the audience something to chew on, they've also made a terrifically entertaining film that reminds us how much more fun the movies were before franchises took over.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for Hail! Caesar:



Hail, Caesar!

Facts and Figures

Genre: Comedy

Run time: 106 mins

In Theaters: Friday 5th February 2016

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Production compaines: Universal Pictures, Mike Zoss Productions, Working Title Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 81%
Fresh: 145 Rotten: 35

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Eddie Mannix, as Baird Whitlock, as Hobie Doyle, as Laurence Lorenz, as Joseph Silverman, as DeeAnna Moran, as C. C. Calhoun, as Hedda Hopper, as Burt Gurney, as Arne Slessum, Veronica Osorio as Carlotta Valdez, as Head Communist Writer, as Communist Screenwriter, as Communist Writer #1, as Communist Writer #2, Tom Musgrave as Communist Writer #3, as Communist Writer #4, Greg Baldwin as Communist Writer #5, Patrick Carroll as Communist Writer #6, as Natalie (Secretary), as Mrs. Mannix, as Narrator, E.E. Bell as Bartender, as Fred, as Lurking Extra #1, as Lurking Extra #2, as Professor Marcuse, as Director, Noel Conlon as Scotty at the Gate, Caitlin Muelder as Cookhouse Woman, Ming Zhao as Chinese Restaurant Waitress, Natasha Bassett as Gloria DeLamour, Noah Baron as Water Ballet P.A., Luke Spencer Roberts as Peanut, Helen Siff as Malibu Maid, Robert Trebor as Producer of 'Hail, Caesar!'

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