Hail, Caesar! is the Coen brothers amusing tribute to Hollywood's Golden Age; an homage that both honors the grandiose scale of 1950s Hollywood, while, at the same time, ridicules the actors, directors, screenwriters and producers behind the well-oiled film-producing machine. How is that possible? Leave that to the Coen brothers to manage...
Hail, Caesar! is not a film for everyone. I suspect that only Coen brothers’ devotees as well as movie buffs will much enjoy it. Others in the audience may walk away with a raised eyebrow. What can I say – I am both a movie buff and I also appreciate the Coen’s style and sense of humor, thus I am biased.
Set at a time of turbulence, Hail, Caesar! takes place when the well-established Hollywood system was being broken down by a Supreme Court ruling that forced studios to do away with owning movie theaters. TV was gaining popularity and being viewed as a contender for attracting movie-goers, and the Red Scare, a byproduct of the Cold War, affected both supporters and protesters of Communism. Into this mix the Coen brothers throw their lead character, the head of production at Capitol Pictures, Eddie Mannix (played by Josh Brolin), who appears and acts in line with film noir style of the dark detective genre.
While Hail, Caesar! seemingly has a simple and straightforward plot, as with the Coen brothers, there are lots of small anecdotes to enjoy. Yet, at times, Hail Caesar! feels a little forced, trying to include tribute to as many Golden Age genres as possible, including Westerns, stylized choreographed dance and aquatic sequences, large scale historical epics, and romances. When the storyline gets too distracted by all these sideshows, the film's saving grace is its sharp sense of humor as well as its long list of current movie stars, including Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Channing Tatum; all well-casted and most ones that the Coen brothers enjoy working with time and again.
While Hail, Caesar! may not be the Coen brothers most memorable film, it is definitely one fans should not miss.
Round and about, one unasked question is: was Jesus the first real Commie? (or at least the first socialist?)