|Page 1 of 34:||          |
|Index||335 reviews in total|
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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...
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.
It looks so good. Really, the feel of 1950s Hollywood has never been
better, the photography is first rate with a stellar cast directed by
the popular and very much held in esteem COEN BROTHERS. Trailer made it
look like an fun Frank Capra kind of film. And when we walked out of
it, given all the above, we missed something. A movie. There is none
here. It is a great job made by talented people aplenty. It wants to be
that fun film but never finds the movie. A few jokes. Not enough.
Quirky fun characters, but not weird enough. Sublots aplenty, but they
never run together and never are resolved. Good acting that goes
nowhere. This fine film is just a bunch of dead end streets that are
way too short with really interesting stuff on the side of the road but
Neil Simon was given script advice once that all the characters have to meet in the play AT LEAST ONCE. Here, none meet at all. They have the subplot and that is it. Ending was weak too. Meh.
From the previews of this film, I had a high level of anticipation for the Coen Brothers' latest venture, expecting it to be an hilarious and satiric romp through the halls of 50's Hollywood. The Coens are excellent technicians so the riffs on MGM, 50's Hollywood Stars, and the general machinations of the studio system were very well done. But I'm afraid the film's achievements were pretty much relegated to this dimension and overall the film remained in the category which I term "All Style and No Substance," clever but ultimately delivering a thin story. Along the way there are some wonderful bits, especially Channing Tatum singing and tap dancing in a suggestively gay sailor dance routine, Tilda Swinton playing twin columnists, Alden Ehrenreich doing some hilarious cowboy stunts on a horse and with a lasso, and Ralph Fiennes directing in a sort of prissy manner. However, none of the plot lines ever yielded anything substantive. I found it difficult to figure out just what the Coen Brothers were attempting with this film.
The Coen Brothers are heroes of mine. They travel from universe to universe remaining true to themselves. Hail, Caesar should have been , I thought, a familiar universe for them but they seem lost. A journey without a clear destination. There are, of course, a few pleasures along the road. The scene between Alden Ehrenreich and Ralph Finnes is a gem. Alden Ehrenreich is a breath of fresh air with vintage breezes that are exciting, compelling and totally disarming. The tap dance routine with Channing Tatum is also a lot of fun even if I can't quite get Channing Tatum. Great body and he can dance but he seems to be somewhere else. Impossible to connect on the screen with him. I hear he gets millions of dollars per movie so maybe it's just me. The opposite of George Clooney who launches himself body and soul to every moment he has on the screen. I will shut up now and wait for the next Coen Brothers movie.
I am a huge Coen Brothers Fan. Many of their films are hard core 10's
in my ratings and I had an uneasy feeling going into this one. The
trailer made me think of Intolerable Cruelty more than O Brother Where
Art Thou or many of their other films.
It felt like a strung together series of little set pieces that didn't hang together as a whole. I won't mention the plot since there was virtually none and what there was was fairly flat and unimportant.
Normally the Brothers can overcome a weak plot (although strong plot-lines have driven several of their movies) with strong quirky performances and memorable cinematography.
Sadly, the dialog lacked snap, the film didn't pop off the screen looks wise, given that it's a period piece, and with such a strong cast, everyone looked tired - almost as if they had come in to film their parts after getting off their day jobs and they were just doing a favor to the Coen's.
Overall I've seen much worse but when you go to a Coen Brothers film, you just expect much more.
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)
|Page 1 of 34:||          |
|Plot summary||Plot synopsis||Ratings|
|Awards||External reviews||Parents Guide|
|Official site||Plot keywords||Main details|
|Your user reviews||Your vote history|