Hail, Caesar!

(2016)

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Title:
Hail, Caesar!
Release Date:
5th February 2016
Runtime:
106 min
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Genres:
Directors:
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Writers:
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Languages:
English
Stream Quality:
1080p / 720p / 480p

Storyline

Four-time Oscar (R)-winning filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Fargo) write and direct Hail, Caesar!, an all-star comedy set during the latter years of Hollywood's Golden Age. Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Channing Tatum, Hail, Caesar! follows a single day in the life of a studio fixer who is presented with plenty of problems to fix.

Ratings

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 85%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience 45%
IMDb Rating 6.4

Casts

Alden Ehrenreich as Hobie Doyle
George Clooney as Baird Whitlock
Josh Brolin as Eddie Mannix
Ralph Fiennes as Laurence Laurentz
Scarlett Johansson as DeeAnna Moran

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by richard-1787 (richard@berrong.fr) 6th February, 2016

Disappointing

This movie got an A rating in the Cleveland Plain Dealer from a film reviewer I have long respected, so I took advantage of a free late afternoon to go see it on the day it opened. It's a shame the review was so positive, because it made my disappointment that much greater. There is very little in this movie that is funny. (The audience I saw it with almost never laughed.) Most of the parodies are simplistic and flat and don't say anything clever about the subjects they are lampooning. Take the extended water ballet sequence that is meant as a send-up of Esther Williams movies. The sequence itself looks like a poor man's version of one of the numbers in *Jupiter's Daughter*. Scarlett Johannson looks frightened all the while she's up in the air in that little basket, but not frightened enough to be funny. And then? Nothing. The number ends as it would in an Esther Williams movie, and there is unfunny dialogue with the swimming character concerning her pregnancy. And so it goes throughout the movie. Things happen, but there is no followup. There are parodies of different types of movies popular in the 1940s and 50s, but the parodies aren't clever or insightful. George Clooney's character gets kidnapped by left-wing script writers, but those scenes don't tell us anything about the black-listed screenwriters of the era. Etc. Some of the reviews on here say the movie is terrible, some think this movie is the best thing since sliced cheese. It's neither extreme. It's just a largely flat comedy, with too few laughs.

Reviewed by A_Different_Drummer 6th February, 2016

People were quietly leaving the theatre

Listen closely. We don't have much time because the film snobs will start banging the NOT USEFUL button and this review will disappear into the IMDb ether. This film almost makes you wonder if the Coen Bros are caught in some sort of Star Trek time paradox and are doing their films backwards. If they had started with this film 32 years ago, the critics would say there were some clever set-pieces and the cinematography was superb but the concept should never have been greenlighted and the script was wretched. From such humble beginnings, in 2016, the Coen Bros would then be able to deliver BLOOD SIMPLE and probably win multiple Oscars for their "growth" as film makers. But in real time, 32 years after Blood Simple, this film is so bad that people were voting with their feet and leaving the theatre at the 1:00 mark (approximately). The story is awful, the dialog is awful, and the voice-over is bad enough to be used as a "persuasion device" at Gitmo. George Clooney should get a new agent because there is not enough money on the planet to compensate him for having to wear a costume that makes him look fat and bloated and 20 years older than he actually is. Only Channing Tatum rescues his own dignity in a tribute to Gene Kelly that actually is entertaining and engaging. The is an awful film. I have never lied to you before and I am not going to start now. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Addendum 2-26: Frankly when I penned the above review right after leaving the theatre, I was not expecting to get involved in a controversy about how flexible the Coen Brothers were "cross-genres," or how clever and eclectic their fans need to be to appreciate the wonderfulness of this specific work. But since the controversy exists, I will add that generally the Coens have produced some of best films I have seen in my lifetime. Inside Llewyn Davis, for example, held my attention like glue, it was a polished gem. Most of their films are polished gems. Unfortunately this is not one of them. If you Google, you will find that, in spite of the sycophantic mainstream critics, this film has generated the Coens' worst box-office numbers ever. And that was the point I was trying to make. Viewers instinctively know the difference between a hit and miss. It's their job -- enjoying films is why they left home, endured the traffic, and found a parking spot in the first place. The actors here try hard, I agree, but the story and the script simply do not connect or resonate or form any empathic bond. The horror is that the "brothers" really should have known better.

Reviewed by (info@joey-aristophanes.com) 6th February, 2016

Not for everyone, and maybe that's a good thing...

HAIL CAESAR! ("A Story of the Christ", as we are told in the title card) is one of those offbeat gems that I have no doubt grows in affection with repeated viewings. Folks here complain that it's not a laugh-a-minute farce, that it's not this, that it's not that... Here's what it *is*: the film version of RADIO DAYS. Just like Allen made a loving pastiche of radio at its height in the 1940s, so have the Coens done for film at the tail end of its Silver Screen era, when studios manipulated its contract players and worked the media to prevent the "unfortunate" aspects from being revealed to an audience that just wanted escapism fantasy. Josh Brolin is the tightly-wound studio "head of physical production", an enforcer who's being seduced by a potential job with Lockheed to oversee work on the atom bomb. Before he can come to a decision about whether or not take it, he has to deal with the sudden disappearance of the slightly disconnected-from-reality George Clooney (who looks like he's having a blast in this, especially in the final scene of his big budget sword-and-sandel Jesus epic). Along the way, we see the Coens' take on Esther Williams, Carmen Miranda, Gene Kelly, and a host of other stars from the era... ... and this is what makes the film so damn much fun. It's not about the story, it's about how the Coens are celebrating the films we have perhaps idealized a bit too much: Esther Williams' underwater ballets and Gene Kelly in NYC for 24 hours and Gary Cooper trying to play it in a toney, high-class period drama. There are so many references to the great films of the day that if you blink, you'll miss a few — they follow fast and furious and sometimes with little more than a sly wink. If you are an old time movie buff, you will love this film to tiny little bits. If not... well, you probably wont enjoy it all that much. But then the Coens probably didn't make it for you, did they...

Reviewed by Mister8tch 6th February, 2016

A Day in the Life

Lots of disappointing comments about how this movie does not live up to the Coen Brothers "standard" (I guess that means laugh-out-loud), is full of stars who get fleeting screen time, has no plot to speak of, no great villain or other dramatic concoction to keep up glued to our seats, etc., etc. What it is is a funny "day in the life" story of the guy (Eddie Mannix--superbly played by Josh Brolin) who has to keep some kind of lid on the craziness that is the studio system of the late 40's/early 50's. Looked at from that character perspective, this is an examination of one man's struggle not only with the insanity of his star stable (Clooney/Johansson/Ehrenreich), but with the question the movie actually revolves around--will Eddie decide to stay, or will he go to Lockheed, who have offered him a job that will make him more money and get him home on time for dinner. The confessional scenes that bookend this movie allow us a fuller glimpse into why Eddie does what he does. Brolin allows us to feel the conflict Eddie is experiencing, amidst the ever rising chaos around him (from a kidnapping, to a possible paternity suit, to having a cowboy actor take over the part in a drawing room comedy), to discover he actually likes what he does, and actually finds a sense of personal worth in handling the ever-escalating mess that is constantly pressing on him from all sides. Brolin's performance is so tight, so controlled and so real, that he is able to carry that storyline with great vigor and compassion. The rest of the lunacy, from the underwater Ester Williams scenes, to the Gene Kelly dance spoof, to the cowboy (Ehrenreich absolutely adorable and on point) and Carmen Miranda get together, simply provides the backdrop. You don't need to know any of the Hollywood history to appreciate this film, other than to know that a good portion of movies, at that time, were not pot-boiling epics, or racy, foul-mouthed satires, but rather quiet movies about individual struggle. Brolin keeps that focus throughout this film, making the ending, just like the movies of the past, a very happy one. A very pleasant, clever, and funny effort from the Brothers. Yes, a send-off, Valentine, if you will. I can see where people who have enshrined Lebowski as the litmus test for all Coen comedy movies moving forward would be disappointed. Fact is, the Brothers can play more than one note.

Reviewed by Steve Pulaski 5th February, 2016

Satire that lacks energy, conviction, characters, character development, a focus, and nearly everything that makes good satire

After the phenomenal and emotional roller-coaster of "Inside Llewyn Davis," a film that still hasn't found the audience it so desperately deserves, Joel and Ethan Coen followup arguably their best film with one that might be their most forgettable. "Hail, Caesar!" is a disappointment of epic proportions; an empty, unfocused satire on Hollywood business that has too many characters fighting for too little screen time, almost no energy despite attempting to work with a high-stakes plot, no strong character relationships despite the fact that everyone is trying to get a word in at all times during the course of the film, and finally, no central conflict that results in the characters ostensibly mustering up any kind of energy. If the characters themselves barely care about the situations they're in, why should we, the audience, who is now out of the high cost of a movie ticket? The film revolves around a Hollywood mogul Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), who is hired to help fix the troubled production of a Hollywood epic known as "Hail, Caesar!." The film stars the famous Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), who winds up being drugged on-set and kidnapped by a radical group of communists that call themselves "The Future." Mannix is tasked with giving the group $100,000 in exchange for his star actor. The Coen brothers spend much of the film hopscotching from different characters and different sets in what feels like a setup for a mini-series rather than a one-hundred minute film. Such characters are Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes), a very meticulous director, Thora and Thessaly Tacker (both played by Tilda Swinton), rival, twin-sister gossip columnists, Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich), a low-rent Western actor-turned-movie-star, who is one of Mannix's closest clients, DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson), an actress who becomes pregnant out of wedlock in the middle of her film, and Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum), a Gene Kelly-type actor, also working under the order of Mannix, who winds up at the center of the film's outstanding dance sequence between a group of Coast Guard members about to embark on a nautical mission that will prevent them from seeing a dame for months. "Hail, Caesar!" is a film of moments, meaning that, once the film is over, you'll remember certain scenes you enjoyed, certain actors' cameos (which most of the aforementioned are) you appreciated, and if you're lucky, lines you can quote verbatim. At the end of the day, the sporadic humor that those little moments provide is not enough to recommend a film. The Coen brothers don't seem to know what direction they want to take this film, and with such a concise runtime, they have no time to make good use of the actors they probably paid quite a bit to show up on set for one day. This gives the film the look and feel that most of these A-list stars are simply fighting over screen time, and that isn't funny, especially when you have true talent being only momentarily showcased so the film can dart off to the next decorated setpiece. Then there's the issue of the film just not having much life to it outside of immaculate costume design and some strong cinematography (done by Roger Deakins, one of Hollywood's most masterful cinematographers working today). Because the actors aren't given characters to work with, no real energy or interest builds for them, and neither do character relationships. What we were supposed to gain from the scene involving Jonah Hill (who is on-screen for maybe a minute and a half) and Scarlet Johansson where Johansson's DeAnna asks Hill's Joseph if pressing down on the machine that stamps the papers hurts his forearm? Was this sort of flirtation so necessary that it needed to be included, or were the Coen's too busy giggling under their breath to notice? "Hail, Caesar!" is overpopulated with scenes that don't work to further what little plot is here, and with such a high-stakes story about a lead actor being kidnapped by a band of communists, Clooney's Braid Whitlock doesn't seem too phased, Brolin's Mannix, who has never been a particularly strong actor to show real emotion or gusto in his personals, doesn't seem too concerned, so what is there left for us to care about? Some comparison has been made between both "Hail, Caesar!" and Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel," and while the two have a similar approach to dry wit and deadpan humor, as well as similar actors like Fiennes and Swinton, Anderson's picture was a perfect example of copious energy and exhilarating, rapid-fire comic exchanges. "Hail, Caesar!" is the exact opposite; a frequently dull and almost entirely uninteresting film, predicated upon the strength of a few great scenes and some decent, albeit far, far too short, performances in a thoroughly muddled picture.