‘Hail, Caesar!’ is flashy, confusing and hilarious

By Jacob Pierce |@JacobPierce1_DE |Daily Egyptian

Like any good Coen Brothers movie, you may have to watch “Hail, Caesar!” a couple times to understand it.

“Hail, Caesar!,” directed by Ethan and Joel Coen and starring Josh Brolin and George Clooney, may leave audiences asking a lot of questions, yet gives them some satisfying answers.

Eddie Mannix, played by Brolin, is a Hollywood fixer for Capital Pictures, one of the biggest movie studios in the 1950s. His job is to make sure every studio controlled film runs smoothly and actor does their job.


This line of work has a lot of shady elements to it and causes Mannix to be on call 24/7. All this, and a cushy job offer from an airline, causes the fixer to question his line of work.

But soon Hollywood star Baird Whitlock, played by Clooney, is kidnapped and Mannix must continue to work with all the headaches of the job while considering a switch.

The Coen Brothers really have not made a terrible film. Even when they miss — for example “The Ladykillers” — the duo does it with enough style that it makes up for any missteps.

This unique storytelling is a key selling point to “Hail, Caesar!”

To say this movie is style over substance is only a half-truth. The film touches on thought-provoking and interesting themes and ideas throughout, such as Hollywood communism, early age-cinema and political correctness.

Unfortunately, because a lot of topics are thrown in the mix, many do not get the time they deserve. While this is a problem, it can be mostly looked over because the Coen’s style is so catchy and fascinating.

Whether it is the snappy and witty dialogue or the idiosyncratic characters, “Hail, Caesar!” will have you laughing and captivated almost all the way through.

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The ensemble cast pushes the film even further toward greatness.

Johansson, Ralph Fiennes and Brolin; “Hail,Caesar!” may have one of the best casts of 2016. While the Coen Brothers script and direction does a lot, the film wouldn’t be anything without these professionals performing.

A key example of this is a scene between Fiennes and Alden Ehrenreich. This exchange between the two comes off as a great and hilarious portrayal of Hollywood.

Fiennes plays a seasoned director and Ehrenreich plays a one-trick pony, up-and-coming actor. Watching the two go back-and-forth with the brothers’ dialogue is beautiful and hysterical — a great way to describe this film. 

As said above, various themes brought are sparsely touched upon, and certain scenes are hard to get through.

I will tell you I may have to go back on this criticism later. Coen Brothers films are like whiskey, they get better with age. “The Big Lebowski,” one of their most beloved movies, was initially a bomb. Now, it is a cult classic, considered the best comedy film by many people.

With all this knowledge, it does not change how I feel about aspects of this film. There are points where the movie is a chore, like the Johansson side plot. 

And there are also points where the film should have gone further with an idea or just dropped it, again, the Johansson side plot.If they had added a couple more scenes to them, the themes would have come off as well-developed.

This causes the film to miss the cohesive qualities Coen Brothers tend to have by making the narrative feel thrown together. 

This does not stop it though from being entertaining and thought provoking.   

Stars: 4 out of 5   

Jacob Pierce can be reached at [email protected] or 618-536-3325