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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Monday, October 17, 2016

Movie Review - Hail, Caesar!

Hail, Caesar! (2016)
Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, and Channing Tatum
Directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

I am not the most erudite guy, but I generally like to think of myself as somewhat intelligent.  When it comes to movies, while I'm sometimes up for a mindless comedic jaunt, I also appreciate more nuanced approaches to humor.  With that in mind, I tried to understand what the Coen Brothers were trying to do with Hail, Caesar!, but I must admit that I found myself lost in the scattered, disjointed, and utterly dull satire that lingered on the screen.  Considering the overwhelmingly positive reviews (85% positive on Rotten Tomatoes), I'm obviously in the minority here, however, this flick never once seems to come together as a cohesive whole.

Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is the head of film production at Capitol Pictures in the early 1950s, but he spends most of his time working as a fixer, trying to keep his top-of-the-line stars from ending up in the gossip pages of well-known columnists like twin sisters Thora and Thessaly Thacker (Tilda Swinton).  It isn't easy and it gets progressively harder when one of the studio's biggest names -- Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) -- gets kidnapped from the set of the studio's big extravaganza Hail, Caeasar by a group of Communist screenwriters.

Were this the only plot of the Coens' Hail, Caesar, it may have been successful, but the duo pepper in a variety of other characters who serve little to no purpose in the film's overarching storyline.  Sure these characters help to create an atmosphere which is admittedly successfully portrayed, but their side stories are so superfluous and unengaged with the main plot line that I felt as if the movie would've worked better as a ten episode-long tv series rather than a self-contained 100-minute movie.  Scarlett Johansson is humorous as a brash, pregnant, unmarried Esther Williams-type synchronized swimming star.  Channing Tatum is fine as a Gene Kelly-esque singer/dancer.  Alden Ehrenreich steals the show as an "aw shucks" Roy Rogers-esque western star/singer.  Still, while these three actors have crafted believable characters, they're not all that integral to the overarching plot.  Unfortunately, that overarching plot is bland and boring and we find ourselves wanting to spend more time with Ehrenreich and Johansson despite the fact that they do little to forward the film.

The flick admittedly looks lush in its period setting and the acting is solid across the board (Ehrenreich is definitely the star of the bunch).  However, production and costume design can only get you so far.  In this so-called comedy, I can count on one hand the amount of times I laughed...and that's a bit of a problem.  The Coen Brothers are admittedly a directorial and writing team who don't always succeed for me, particularly in the comedy world.  Hail, Caesar! is one of those failures.

The RyMickey Rating:  D

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