An incredible A-List cast, established directors, and a tribute to the golden age of Hollywood. What more could you ask for?
Before I start this Hail Caesar review take a moment and check out the Hail, Caesar! website where you can find the production notes and read the background and inspiration for this movie. With that out of the way let’s get down to it.
This picture is set in the 1950’s “Golden Age” of Hollywood and we follow a conflicted Hollywood “Fixer”, a studio executive who goes makes sure that his studio is only seen in a positive light, around Capitol Pictures. Josh Brolin’s character, Eddie Mannix, is a workaholic that is juggling at least five major projects, each showcasing a different film style from the era. There is a western, an aquatic feature, a high society drama, a singing and dancing picture, and a Roman take on Christ. Fair warning there are spoilers ahead, read on
The most important picture in my opinion is the final one listed since the conflict revolves around Baird Whitlock, who George Clooney plays. Baird Whitlock has been acting with the studio for the longest amount of time and but in the middle of his retelling of Jesus Christ’s life, he is taken for ransom. Eddie Mannix has to find his star before filming on Hail Caesar can continue. My favorite part relating to this picture was when Mannix gathers four religious heads of different faiths and denominations to give a seal of ethical approval on the film, but due to their varying viewpoints on religion chaos ensues.
After this film, my next favorite is the aquatic feature that is loosely on Esther Williams’s feature films, who was the queen of synchronized swimming. Scarlett Johansson plays Deeanna Moran who gets pregnant out of wedlock, so Mannix devises a plan where Moran gives up her baby for adoption then adopts it a few days later so she looks like a charitable single mother.
In the Western a rising star Hobie Doyle, Alden Ehrenreich, was offered a job off of a ranch and made into a Hollywood star. His acrobatic, corralling and singing skills are unmatched but he lacks in one very important skill in Hollywood, his acting. When he is moved onto a high society drama picture directed by Laurence Laurentz, played by Ralph Fiennes, who is driven by crazy bu Doyle’s lack of classical acting training.
Channing Tatum is the star of the final film which is a singing and dancing number where he gets to show off his singing ability as Burt Gurney. Gurney is a secret Communist party sympathizer, and he is the mastermind behind Whitlock’s kidnapping. He eventually leaves on a submarine for Russia after they get the ransom for Whitlock.
This film was directed by the Coen brothers who have a very referential style of humor so I would highly recommend watching some of their other films like Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and True Grit.
My recommendation is that you read through the production notes before you go see the movie because until I read them I didn’t understand some of the references.
My one gripe with this film was that at times it felt like they wrote in different events just to add to the run time of the movie. While Scarlett Johnasson’s was interesting from a ‘this is what Hollywood was like’ stand point, I felt like it didn’t contribute to the overall story.
That being said I would recommend this movie to anyone who is interested in golden age Hollywood, but for those who don’t have an interest in the industry just skip it.
Give the trailer a watch if you are on the fence about seeing it.