In a dystopian near future, single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods.
Hail Caesar! Follows a day in the life of Eddie Mannix, a Hollywood fixer for Capitol Pictures in the 1950s, who cleans up and solves problems for big names and stars in the industry. But when studio star Baird Whitlock disappears, Mannix has to deal with more than just the fix. Written by
HAIL, CAESAR! is one of the worst motion pictures that I have seen in a long, long time.
There. That should get me on the poster.
A rare misfire by the usually reliable Coen Brothers, HAIL, CAESAR! had all the earmarks of a good film - veteran script writers and directors, a stellar cast and a good technical team. So why didn't this work?
Let's start with the marketing. By the previews and the television ads, this looked like a whimsical farce of a movie by the Coen Brothers. Call it "Coen Brothers-lite", in the same vein of BURN AFTER READING and O BROTHER, WHERE ARE THOU? It starred GEORGE CLOONEY as a major motion picture star of the '50s who is kidnapped by "THE FUTURE". It takes legendary Hollywood "fixit man", Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) to pull a band of Hollywood types together to find and rescue him.
But, that is not what the movie is about.
It does have a whimsical tone, I'll give them that, but that's about all that is the same from the previews. The movie isn't about Clooney's character, it's about a day in the life of Mannix and the many, many things he needs to fix. Clooney's kidnapping is just one of many stories/crisisis that Mannix needs to fix and, no, he doesn't incorporate the other stars to help out. They had their own problems.
Ralph Fiennes is a refined director working with a less than refined actor (Alden Ehrenreich). Scarlett Johansson is an Esther Williams- type who is in "the family way" and Channing Tatum is...well, I won't spoil it.
I waited all movie for these disparate story lines to merge together, but they never did. They were just different short stories stitched together to form a movie.
That would be fine, because this movie stars a boatload of Hollywood celebrities, right? Well, not really...
Ralph Fiennes is in 2 scenes
Scarlett Johansson is in 3.
Channing Tatum is in 3.
Frances McDormand is in only 1 scene, but steals the movie.
Poor ol' Jonah Hill is just in 1 scene, and really, he is in only about 1/2 a scene.
Tilda Swinton has the biggest part of these "stars", she plays twins who are rival gossip columnists that are each in 2 scenes, so she has 4!
Clooney, does have the largest of the small parts, but it still is just too little.
The other issue I have is that NONE of these characters (including, and maybe, ESPECIALLY, Mannix) have any kind of emotional arc. All characters are basically the same at the end that they were at the beginning. There really were no "stakes" for anyone, which makes for a dull movie.
To give the Coen's credit, the move is "made" well. Beautiful shots, the costumes and sets give off the proper vibe, so it's not a sloppy or shoddily made movie, it's just not a good movie. They only have 2 people to blame, the writers, which, of course, is themselves.
If you want to see a good picture about 1950's era Hollywood, check out TRUMBO.
HAIL, CAESAR!? HAIL, NO!
4 (out of 10) stars and you can take that to the Bank (of Marquis)
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