Hail, Caesar! Movie Review


Hail, Caesar! Movie Review
George Clooney looks just as confused as I was watching the film, Hail, Caesar!


Josh Brolin is becoming one of my favorite actors in cinema today. Like my other current favorites Tom Hardy (The Revenant) and Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Brolin can totally immerse himself in character and deliver a top-notch performance every time. The Strange thing is, though, he seems to star in as many good films as he does in bad/mediocre ones as well. Sure I remember him first as the asshole older brother in The Goonies, but I didn't really notice him as an actor until 2007 when he starred in both No Country for Old Men and the Planet Terror segment of Grindhouse.

In 2008, I didn't see W. (not much of a bio fan), but I did see Milk (wait, Milk is a bio too) and he was great. It seems that for every good movie like True Grit (2010), Men In Black 3, and Sicario, Brolin also picks questionable roles in things like Jonah Hex, Oldboy, and Inherent Vice. He's brought his best to all of those, yet I can't help but wonder if he's blinded by how interesting his characters are over how lacking the scripts may be?

Hail, Caesar!

I've decided to focus a good chunk of this review to Mr. Brolin and a little less to his latest film Hail, Caesar!, because for lack of a better term, I'm too stupid to fully understand and appreciate its many eccentricities. Would that it were so simple, a normal guy like me might get it. That's why the blog's called "Average Joes" and not "Articulate Sumbitch".

It happens to me every once and awhile. Films like The Double, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Lost Highway, left me scratching my head so much that I got a temporary bald spot from it. I even wore out the phrase "WTF" for the next decade or so as well. It seems that the distinguishing line between artistry and coherence can be blurred at times. The Coen Brothers (The Big Lebowski) generally release simple movies that entertain and occasionally get you thinking, but they hardly ever put confusion above stability. The story for Hail, Caesar! is straightforward, I think.

But the problem is that there is so much going on with its multiple characters and scenes, that there isn't much time to reflect on anything before getting slapped in the face again by some more intentional turmoil. I can admire the effort put into its many aspects, however, I can't forgive how many actors come in for quick cameos that seem to be more for validation than actual necessity. It's like, "Ooh, let's see who will sign on to make more and more people come and see our confusing ass movie!".

Sorry, I criticize when I'm perplexed. The overall look of 1950's Hollywood looks very snazzy (see what I did there). The colors are appropriately dull, the cigarettes are all lit, and the musical dance routines are alive and kicking. There's Communist screenwriters, a country boy who's smarter than his accent will allow, a pregnant star who knows her dance routine better than the Father's identity of her unborn child, a witless actor who absorbs everything that's said to him as gospel, and a second-guessing studio fixer that visits the confessional more than his wife. Sounds funny enough to make it all work, right?

Brolin as always commands his role and is the best character of the film. He goes through a constant state of controlled anxiety while having to juggle the many actors and situations that come along with making movies. He seems to be the only stable element in the whole mess of things. George Clooney (O Brother, Where Art Thou?) as the kidnapped movie star, does an excellent job of acting like a know-it-all while being a gullible deer in the headlights.

Alden Ehenreich (Beautiful Creatures) as the baby-faced cowboy, displays a young innocence that would have probably had his character ending up in secret Hollywood twink parties as a temporary attraction. Scarlett Johansson (Don Jon) as the pregnant star, has the voice and mannerisms down, but her appearances are scattered along the film like nearly everybody else.

Interesting actors like Ralph Fiennes (In Bruges), Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street), Jonah Hill (22 Jump Street), Frances McDormand (Fargo), Tilda Swinton(Constantine), and many others, are left to a scene or two where they might not even have more than a line! I think that Hail, Caesar! should have been cast a little more humbly for the audience (and myself), so that we could pay more attention to the story, and less on "Hey! I know that guy!". Oops! I kinda said that already earlier in the review. I guess I still feel a bit stupid.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of Hail, Caesar!

The Good- The "Would that it were so simple?" scene, religious figures discuss Jesus' validity on film and life, Tatum's Navy whites musical number, the spaghetti lasso, and the Russian sub rendezvous.

The Bad- Did I even talk about the movie at all, or just defend my ignorance?

The Ugly- This movie really made me question my capabilities as a movie reviewer. I still have much to learn my young Padawan. Did I just say that to myself?

Final Thoughts

Hail, Caesar! is a very disappointing attempt at sordid comedy from the Coen Brothers and their near spotless record. It just wasn't put together properly. Even after over a decade from being an idea to the finished product, this movie is still missing something. Maybe they should have waited another decade to better fine tune it? Maybe you should see this in theaters if you're smarter than me? Maybe I should just shut up? I would, that it were so simple.
Rating- 5 out of 10

Hail, Caesar! (2016)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Mystery | 5 February 2016 
A Hollywood fixer in the 1950s works to keep the studio's stars in line.

Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen 
Writers: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen    
Stars: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich