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
When Burt Gurney puts a bar rag on the bartender's head, then slides along the bar, the bartender can be seen starting to remove the bar rag. In the next shot, a close-up of the bartender, the bar rag is still on his head, with him not trying to remove it. See more »
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.
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