I honestly haven’t gotten around to seeing many Coen Brothers’ films. Shame on me…I haven’t even seen Fargo.
Hail, Caesar! intrigued me due to the cast, the Old Hollywood-esque look and cinematographer Roger Deakins. The film definitely is the Coen Brothers type of humor, making it a fun and charming film, that is so beautiful to look at.
Eddie Mannix (played by Josh Brolin) is a Hollywood fixer trying to keep Capitol Pictures under control. He lives a very stressful life that prevents him from being with his wife and kids. On film set, Eddie has to deal with the fact that one of his actresses, DeeAnna Moran (played by Scarlett Johansson) is pregnant, but she isn’t quite sure who the father is. On another set, Eddie had to submit a request that Western film star Hobie Doyle (played by Alden Ehrenreich) be moved to a new dramatic film directed by the flamboyant Laurence Laurentz (played by Ralph Fiennes), which ends up being a disaster with Hobie’s thick southern accent.
Just when Eddie’s day couldn’t get any worse, he learns that one of their biggest stars, Baird Whitlock (played by George Clooney), is kidnapped from the set of a new religious film Hail, Caesar!. Whitlock was kidnapped by two extras of the film, thrown into a van and transported to a beautiful mansion in Malibu. When he awakes, he finds a room full of men (later we learn Hollywood writers) who turn out to be preaching the Communist party. However, he doesn’t seem to know who’s house he is in.
As time clicks on, Eddie must work to keep the studio under control before word gets out that Baird is missing. Gossip columnist twins/rivals Thora & Thessaly Thacker (played by Tilda Swinton) are all over the studio looking for the next big story. One mentions a different story about Baird, that absolutely cannot be released either. It’s a chaotic day in this Hollywood studio, and Eddie needs to find Baird before time runs out.
The cast is very strong all around. Alden Ehrenreich is a standout as the southern actor Hobie Doyle, bringing in most of the best laughs. Then there is Channing Tatum, who plays a musical actor and performs a musical number about sailors who are going to be deprived of women when they are on the seas. It’s a hilarious, gay number that is one of the best scenes in the whole film.
Direction wise, the Coen Brothers have made a sharp film with strong editing from the Brothers, as well. Where the two of them struggle a little is with the screenplay. It’s charming and has its funny moments, but the story tends to find spots that are all over the place. Like the opening scene with Brolin slapping up one of his actresses in trouble could have been reworked or the unnecessary narrative could have been cut.
The film could earn some Oscar nominations come 2017 in the technical categories. This is one of the most beautiful looking films thanks to Roger Deakins. Some scenes looked like an absolute work of art or painting. For example, the Scarlet Johannsson scene where she is filming her pool, synchronized swimming scene (think old Hollywood actress Esther Williams) is breathtaking. Or the scene where Fiennes is directing Ahrenreich’s character. Also, shout-out to Mary Zophres for Costume Designs, Jess Gonchor for his Production Design & 2016 Oscar nominee (Carol) Carter Burwell for his music.
Hail, Caesar! is a gorgeous film with charm and laughs. While it may not be one of the best comedies that I have seen, it’s still a fun, light film for the beginning of 2016. Rated PG-13.