The Harbinger Online

Review: Hail, Caesar!

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Drama/comedy “Hail, Caesar!”, despite its good IMDB rating, was disappointing on so many levels. From the glitzy trailers, the movie appeared to be a funny satire of what it’s like in the movie business. Sadly, I fell for the cherry-picked scenes and the big names that were shown in the trailer. I thought, “George Clooney and Channing Tatum in the same movie? Sign me up!”

The movie follows Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), who is the head of production at Capitol Records in the 1950’s. He sorts out the messes, the drama and the screw-ups that grace the behind-the-scenes of movie production. Mannix is hired to help out with ‘Hail, Caesar!’, a troubled movie that stars Baird Whitlock, played by Clooney, who is a famous actor at the time. Just as they are about to film the last scenes for the movie, Whitlock is kidnapped from set by a communist group called ‘The Future’ and held for a ransom of $100,000. Mannix is left to deal with finding Whitlock before it costs the company too much money. He also has to fend off  nosy twin gossip columnists Thora and Thessaly Thacker (both played by Tilda Swinton) so that they won’t find out. Oh, the drama!

Except this is not the only story line. There are other movie stars with separate problems and different solutions. There just was not enough time to cover them all. The flip from each star to the next leaves the movie far too complicated and leads to too much dialogue crammed into too little time. Going in, I expected witty jokes and for it to resemble how “pictures” were 60 years ago.  It stars George Clooney, Josh Brolin and Scarlett Johansson among others and it was written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, what could go wrong? The movie did show what production was like, but it still fell short of my somewhat high expectations.

There are many problems presented throughout the movie to show the high demands and stress that Mannix deals with. This leads to his internal conflict: he can’t decide if the job and all of its difficulties is worth it or if he should just switch to an easier job at an aircraft manufacturing company. None of these details add dimension to the flat plot.

There are scenes in the movie that were intended to be funny, but failed to actually make me laugh out loud. The references to movies made in that time period don’t add any humor or entertainment to the scenes. Even the more obvious jokes, like when DeAnna Moran (played by Johansson) discusses her bastard child’s father and whether or not she knows exactly who it is, failed to make the audience laugh. It wasn’t even enough to make the giggly woman sitting next to me give anything but a snort.

The scenes were choppy, hard to follow and none were really enthralling. I wondered if this movie was actually supposed to be funny. I glanced around the movie theater to see if I was missing anything, but all I saw were dim eyes. The movie was just dull. I found myself wondering when it would be over. The movie and the old man sitting two seats down from me gently snoring made me want to fall asleep too.

“Hail, Caesar!” was not the worst movie I’ve ever seen, but it is far from the best. The plot was choppy, the jokes were dull and the acting was simply okay. I expected more from all of these different aspects. The main idea of the plot could have been re-worked and made to flow better, there were just too many directions trying to be taken at once. It took away from the movie. The jokes were for the most part uncomical. The acting was okay but more is expected from award-winning actors. Clooney’s character was silly and nothing spectacular. Scarlett Johansson’s role was minor enough that when she was referenced in the movie I had forgotten who she was. None, however, were as small and silly as Jonah Hill’s role who only appeared in one scene.

As the credits rolled and I reached for my coat, I couldn’t think of an outstanding moment throughout the entire movie. Once this movie leaves theaters and pops up under the ‘New Releases’ category on pay-per-view, it will just be another movie you’ll have to read the summary bar for because you’ve forgotten what it was about. Once you do, you’ll scroll on past it. “Hail, Caesar!” was simply mediocre, and frankly, I would have rather stayed at home and watched Netflix.

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