If you’ve never seen a Coen brothers film, you probably would have no idea what to expect from this movie. I recommend watching O Brother Where Art Thou, mostly just cause it’s awesome, but also because it will help your expectations when going into Hail, Caesar! You have to go into this movie knowing that it’s going to be kind of crazy and ridiculous, or else you’ll be like, what the heck is happening right now?
So Hail, Caesar is sort of this film noir look back at a movie production company in the 50’s, following a Hollywood fixer that keeps the movie stars working and from doing crazy things. Well, he tries, anyway. They do crazy things nonetheless.
There is so much fun stuff here and a cast chock full of familiar faces: we get a look at old sound stages and how they used to film a lot of huge production numbers (including one where we get to see Channing Tatum dressed as a sailor sing and tap dance on bar tables). Josh Brolin is extremely likable as Eddie Manix, the fixer who tirelessly works to keep his studio going. George Clooney plays a movie star playing the lead role in the film Hail, Caesar! that gets kidnapped by a…club of sorts. Hilarity ensues. Although some of my favorite Clooney parts were when he was filming the movie; I was audibly and quite loudly laughing for much of this as he hilariously filmed an epic Roman picture that was reminiscent of Ben-Hur. Ralph Fiennes plays an exacting film director in the funniest scene of the movie where I probably laughed for the entire scene straight. Scarlett Johansson is a dissatisfied starlet who gets pregnant out of wedlock. Tilda Swinton portrays a set of ridiculous twins who are both reporters that you definitely wouldn’t be able to tell apart, even though they both think poorly of the other and quite highly of themselves. There are plenty of other recognizable faces (Frances McDormand, Jonah Hill, Allison Pill, among others) who pop in for cameos, creating a stellar and recognizable cast.
But my favorite character of the whole movie would probably be the absolutely adorable Hobie Doyle, played expertly by Alden Ehrenreich. Hobie is a movie star in his own right, but he does westerns, where all he has to really do is ride horses and do rope tricks (which Ehrenreich very impressively does himself-the rope tricks at least). None of that talking nonsense. He is on the other side of the Ralph Fiennes hilarious scene, and I’m telling you, it may be the funniest scene in any movie I’ve ever scene. But Hobie is endlessly likable as a simple guy among crazed stars, and I came away from the movie hoping to see Alden Ehrenreich in many more films (I’ve seen him in Beautiful Creatures, which I thought he was fantastic in, but that’s all I’ve seen).
The plot feels a little muddy, especially in the first third, partly because there are so many characters and it sort of feels like we’re just getting a run through of the production company’s stars; I felt like the Scarlett Johansson story could have been left out. It didn’t really do anything to add to the main plot, but it didn’t really detract either. However, even though I was a little lost, I didn’t mind too much, because the Coen brothers sure know how to write an entertaining script.
I was certainly not expecting the main conflict, and when it appeared, it was done so hysterically that you then just had to laugh every time it came up. Really, the presentation of the conflict in this movie is priceless. And that’s actually thanks a lot to George Clooney’s absolutely hysterical acting (Remember O Brother Where Art Thou? Clooney knows how to milk a comedic moment)
If you’re interested in film-making from the 50’s, or perhaps just laughing your face off, you should go see Hail, Caesar! Sure it’s campy most of the time, but that campiness kept me laughing far after the movie ended. It’s one I will definitely be seeing again, if for no other reason than just to enjoy the hilarious script again. And swoon a bit over Alden Ehrenreich.
Content: Rated PG-13 for some suggestive content and smoking. Recommended for 15+
4 out of 5 Stars