The Coen Brothers are some of the most interesting filmmakers working today. It’s hard to exactly pin down what their exact genre is, but one of their best abilities is to find humor in the mundane or dark. Fargo is a film that took a dark subject matter and threw it into a pleasant little town in North Dakota. Where O Brother! Where Art Thou is loosely based on The Odyssey. Both movies end up being hilarious with seemingly mundane humor. Hail, Caesar! ends up somewhere in the middle, and a lot works here.
Throughout, we follow Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) a man who helps run a movie studio in Hollywood, he goes around and tries his best to fix problems that other stars are having that might cause problems for their public image and the studio’s image. The main story here is that the star of Hail, Caesar!, their biggest feature yet, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) is kidnapped and held for ransom by a group called The Future. From there the movie, and the movies within the movie, are shown in seemingly random order.
For the most part it works here. The movie is a lot of style over substance here and it works surprisingly well. The Coen’s typical dry wit is present and it too works for the most part. The jokes are a success a lot of the time, but there are moments when it falls flat and it can get a bit award and dry. It also seems a bit aimless at times, but I think that’s the point. This seems like a normal few days for Mannix, and he handles it all with a certain sly smile and direction. So by the end, I felt its aim was to look at Mannix, and not the many stars he came into contact with those few days.
The scenes where he meets some of these stars are some of the funniest parts of the movie, the highlight being a frustrated director trying to teach a famous western actor to act in a dramatic film. The fact that he can’t read his lines properly and that he is wooden and emotionless makes for some fantastic moments between them.
That being said. If you’ve seen any Coen Brothers movie and didn’t like them. This one won’t bring you to their side. It’s a Coen film through and through, that means quirky characters, strange and dry humor, and a weird story that might not make sense the first time around. It’s weird, and the jokes don’t always hit, but if you enjoy Coen Brothers films, or weird quirky humor, I think there’s a lot to enjoy here. It had me rolling with laughter on more than one occasion and is worth your time. Of course, there’s a certain red superhero hitting theaters this Friday that might steal any audience this movie might get.
Rating: 4/5 Classic Coen Brothers comedy all mashed up in one, classy love letter to old school Hollywood.