Monday, February 8, 2016

Movie Review #376: "Hail, Caesar!" (2016)

Movie"Hail, Caesar!"
Ticket Price: $7.00
Director: Joel & Ethan Coen
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 46 minutes
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Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is a Hollywood fixer. He works for the studios, doing his best to keep scandals out of the press. He has to cover up leading lady DeeAnna Moran's (Scarlett Johansson) unwed pregnancy, play matchmaker for an up-and-coming actor named Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich), who the studio wants as their next big star, and recover a kidnapped leading man named Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) from a group known as The Future, all while keeping gossip columnists Thora and Thessaly Thacker (Tilda Swinton) at bay. This is all in a day's work for Eddie Mannix. 

"Hail, Caesar!" is the most recent film from visionary directors Joel and Ethan Coen. Together, they comprise a pair of our favorite directors and have very rarely (if ever) let us down. If you saw the trailer for this movie, you may have been a little mislead as to what this film is actually about. The trailer focuses on the kidnapping of Baird Whitlock, played by George Clooney, one of Hollywood's biggest stars. This story line is showcased as what could the central plot of the film, when really, "Hail, Caesar!" is all about the day in the life of Eddie Mannix, played by Josh Brolin. Mannix is a studio fixer who covers up any and all scandals for Capital Pictures. The kidnapping of Baird Whitlock by a group called The Future is only part of the much more complex, varied story involving pregnancies, communists, relationships, and Lockheed. Mannix has many a scandal to take care of, all while dealing with his own at-home life and the prospect of a new job trying to woo him away from Hollywood. In between these scandals and personal woes, Eddie is entrusted to make sure the right stars are in the right places, literally and figuratively speaking, all while the hustle and the bustle and the moving and the shaking that goes on behind-the-scenes at Capital Pictures never ceases for a moment's rest.

"Hail, Caesar!" offers a satirical look at the classic Hollywood studio system as it treats the old scandal and rumors of yore as if they were completely factual. There is some really good witty dialogue throughout the film from the Coen Brother's jumbled but zany script. In addition, there is some truly expert camera work done here as many different shots and angles are used to both mimic and express devotion to the old days of cinema. We have really come to expect no less from them in the writing and directing departments. The acting is great across the board with an outstanding cast of characters. The aforementioned Brolin and Clooney are simply wonderful. Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, and Alden Ehrenreich all give excellent performances, too, but it's really Channing Tatum who stands out the most. Tatum has really come into his own lately, doing projects we wouldn't normally associate with the stripper-turned-actor, but damn it, we love the guy! There are also small appearances by Jonah Hill and Frances McDormand as well.

We are huge fans of the Coen Brothers, but we have come to understand that their movies often require multiple viewings in order to catch all the subtle nuances they want to encapsulate on film forever. "Hail, Caesar!" reads as a satire, a criticism, and a glowing ode all in one. This is a good movie, but we still feel this film is not their best effort. It begins very strongly out of the gate with a ton of brilliant moments and quite a few laughs; one such moment that sticks out to us as being one of the best is the song "No Dames" featuring a dance number by Tatum and company. The scene is a lot of fun and made us smile the entire time. Many people will not like the haste this film uses in switching from one scene to the next, and others will find it too slow and odd for their liking when doling out bits and piece of information pertinent to the plot. But since we're just a couple of weirdos, we dig it wholeheartedly. It does start to lose some momentum towards the end as the middle to final portions do feel a bit overextended. Despite its flaws, we really did enjoy this movie a lot. It's quite fun with great homage to what many call the golden age of Hollywood.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 79%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "Mr. Turner"

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