(Note: This review is a few weeks late due to Movie-Blogger.com’s recent overhauls. You could’ve seen this earlier on my personal blog)
Okay let’s get this out of the way first: If you are not familiar with The Coen Brothers and their style, I wouldn’t start out with this movie as your first Coen Brothers movie. If you’re not a fan of The Coen Brothers, this one isn’t gonna change your mind. For everyone else, here’s the short version. Great performances, great cinematography, really REALLY funny, but it’s more then a little scatter-brained and unlike something like No Country For Old Men the stakes really aren’t that high. Like a lot of Coen Brothers movie’s, it’s all pretty subjective. Me personally, I loved it.
So it’s the 50’s and Josh Brolin plays Eddie Mannix, a studio executive working for Capitol Studio’s whose main job really just seems to be keeping everyone in line. He’s the one who gets actors out of tricky situations, covers up uncomfortable stories from the preying eyes of gossip journalists, and generally smoothes all the transactions between the studio and the people making the movies. Mannix soon has to deal the disappearance of George Clooney’s character, Baird Whitlock, who’s been kidnapped off the set of the studio’s latest blockbuster “Hail, Caesar”. Mannix has to find Whitlock as soon as possible to keep the production on track, while simultaneously juggling the separate jobs of keeping a pair of gossip journalist twins (both played by Tilda Swinton) off the trail of Whitlock, dealing with the unplanned pregnancy of a separate actress (Scarlett Johansson) , and the latest disastrous transfer of a famous cowboy actor (Alden Ehrenreich) to a broadway drama adaptation.
Now that’s a lot going on for one movie and there are at least 3 more subplots I haven’t mentioned that play important parts in the plot later. So sadly that comes at the cost of certain scene’s not quiiite having the dramatic weight they should and the whole feature being somewhat unfocused. If you were coming here expecting a tight 90 minute drama where everything get’s satisfactorily resolved and where everything’s spelled out to you, this isn’t it. I do also have to address the fact that the film has been slightly mis-marketed. It seems like they’ve been really stressing the presence of the supporting cast and, truth be told, if you were expecting to see Jonah Hill or Channing Tatum throughout the whole movie, they really don’t show up for more than 1 or 2 scenes. The amusing thing is though is that this never really becomes a problem for me, because Hail, Caesar! is first and foremost an absolutely hilarious comedy, and one of the most bitingly relevant examples of movie industry satire I’ve ever seen. The movie does take a lot of time to pay homage to 50’s cinema in all its glory, but dang if it doesn’t also mock the crap out of it at the same time; and what’s truly genius is how almost everything it’s pointing out still has a whole lot of relevance today. This movie takes a shot at everything from religious depictions of Christ in Cinema, to the trend of cowboy movie’s in the 50’s and it’s similarities to the super-hero trends of now, and it hits dead-center almost every time. It’s also just a really funny movie in its own right, and it’s the smart kind of humor that never goes for an easy joke and always makes you pay attention to every seen in case there’s something hilarious happening in the background, which there usually is. Roger Deakins’ cinematography is great as usual; there’s one shot in particular that I feel like I could just frame on my wall forever. The performances are fantastic. As I said, a lot of the cast really only serves more as a glorified cameo at best but when they’re on screen they’re killing it. Josh Brolin definitely deserves an Oscar nom next year for this, I’m gonna be pretty disappointed if he doesn’t.
Hail, Caesar! probably isn’t for everyone, and it’s definitely not one of the Coen’s absolute best. But it’s an absolutely hilarious comedy, one of the best examples of satire done right I’ve seen in a while, and is definitely one of my favorite films of the year already. If your really feeling the January/February movie blues, I can’t think of a better movie to see right now.
The Media Fire gives this movie 8.8/10