An ode to post-war Hollywood, the Coen Brothers represent the Golden Age of Cinema in a way only they can. And it’s a damn good time.
Taking care of Hollywood’s screwballs and odd jobs is something that only Eddie Mannix has proven he could do. As the Head of Physical Production for the fictitious Capitol Pictures, Mannix is essentially a glorified babysitter that has to keep his stars in order and out of trouble. Played by Josh Brolin, Mannix’s unofficial job is that of a Hollywood fixer…which is exactly as it sounds. If something is wrong and needs to be taken care of, Mannix is the person to go to and is the one that can get the job done.
Known for her pictures involving water ballet, DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) is now pregnant with no known father…which during the 1950’s is a red flag. British director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes), known for his beautiful, sweeping films, is in need of a leading man for his newest picture, Merrily We Dance. Hobie Doyle, (Alden Ehrenreich) who’s singing cowboy, needs to be set up with a date for a film premiere and be given a dialect coach so he could be the star in Laurentz newest film. Leave all of these jobs for Eddie Mannix and make sure everything’s perfect.
But there’s one problem that proves to be more difficult than all of the others: big Hollywood star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) has been kidnapped by an unknown group who only identify themselves as The Future (which comes in handy throughout the film when the Coen brothers can deliver what is possibly one of the best lines they’ve written). Whitlock is the star of a Roman Empire epic titled Hail, Caesar!, and production cannot finish without him.
If you’ve seen a Coen Brothers film before, you know that no matter the situation they can find a way to inject humor throughout their films. The Coen Brothers have covered almost every topic you can try and think of — westerns, thrillers, musicals, comedies (dark comedies included), and plenty of others. The brothers have been around for over 20 years and have put together what is an insanely impressive resume of films.
Looking at where Hail, Caesar! fits in…for one, it’s a straight comedy that has elements of several different films within. We see hints of neo-noir/mystery films, we see musical numbers, we see the old-time cowboy films. Hail, Caesar! is basically a love letter to the Golden Age of Hollywood and the Coen Brothers appear to have such a good time created these little vignettes representing the different films that were popular at the time. At times it seems like they’re sacrificing their own film to make these fictional films more enjoyable. But you know what? That never takes away from how good of a time Hail, Caesar! actually is.
It’s evident that every member of the cast (including Channing Tatum, Tilda Swinton, Jonah Hill, and Frances McDormand) is just having a blast even with their limited time on screen. Especially Tatum. I never realized it before, but I absolutely want a Coen directed Gene Kelly-type musical starring Tatum. You’ll see why. It also has to be said that Hail, Caesar! is beautifully shot, capturing the essence of the Golden Age in a way that only master cinematographer Roger Deakins would be able to do.
So when it comes down to it, Hail, Caesar! is definitely something that people will enjoy. Even if you’re not familiar with some of the classical Hollywood tropes, there’s a bit of something for everyone to sit back and chew on. As for Coen Brothers fans, don’t go in looking for something like No Country for Old Men, go in expecting Burn After Reading or Raising Arizona.
Hail, Caesar! is written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen and stars Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Channing Tatum. Hail, Caesar! will be in theaters February 5, 2016.