The Coen Brothers’ Hail, Cesar! is an eccentric view on post-WWII Hollywood. It’s both a visually dazzling loving ode, and a half realized story. The strong cast, sumptuous production design, and general hard work have been adorned to disguise from a wafer-thin tale that lacks compelling narrative elements. Every genre from Hollywood’s golden-age is represented and painstakingly recreated for which the production team must be credited for its talent. If only the story was something other than a ‘goof’ on the McCarthyism that seeped into tinsel town.
Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) is one of the big movie-star in the world. He’s certainly the biggest role player under contract for Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) and Capital Pictures Studio. In the midst of production on a Roman epic that has religious overtones, Baird is drugged by an extra on-set and kidnapped. Mannix receives a ransom letter requesting $100,000 signed by a group calling themselves “the future.”
Meanwhile, an unnecessary sub-plot involving Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) and his transition from singing cowboy to dramatic roles proves utterly useless to the film. A dozen or more familiar actors and actresses populate the small vignettes that compromise the script. Scarlett Johnansson and Channing Tatum make the best impression in their few moments on-screen.
Everybody seems to have been working so diligently to produce Hail, Cesar! that I feel compelled to give it a recommendation based on the work behind the scenes. However, it seems to have been for not, the result on-screen lacks the magic of the pictures it’s satirizing. Despite manic energy from its cast and beautiful re-creations from iconic Hollywood genres Hail, Cesar! is low-grade Coen.
Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Stars: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich