Film Review: Hail, Caesar! Hailing to the Style, but not Substance

“Hail, Caesar!” brings an A-list cast including Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, and Ralph Fiennes with legendary directors/writers, Joel & Ethan Coen. This is the latest movie since 2013’s “Inside Lynn Davis” that these brothers have both written and directed, so are they able to show off their incredible talents once again?

It’s the golden age of Hollywood, and Eddie Mannix (Brolin) is a “fixer” who’s tasked to aid the directors, actors, etc., out of their situations. Whether it’s finding an actress a husband to help her with the press or getting money to rescue Hollywood’s biggest star, Mannix is there to figure it all out.

There is no real central story to this. It’s much like another Coen Brothers movie, “The Big Lebowski”, where the audience will be watching the characters interact with what is currently going with them than anyone heading off on some experience. It’s an odd style, but can work if done well.

With that in mind, that element does bring the movie’s biggest problem, there’s no focus. With so much going on, the movie doesn’t give the audience time to immerse themselves with the characters or story. One minute, someone will be on screen doing something, then the next minute will be focused on a completely different scenario.

While the cast in general do a solid job, especially Brolin, half of them aren’t in the movie for that long. The movie is little over a hundred minutes long, and it hurts the film by not giving enough scenes with some actors like Tatum and Johansson, who have only about four to five scenes combined. It should have been longer to let the audience get to know more about the characters.

Jonah Hill is only in the movie for one scene, and only has like two lines of dialogue. There is no real meaning with many of the scenes, and the characters, good acting or not, mostly don’t make anything that engaging.

If there is something that this movie does give that is definitely worth noting is its atmosphere. The details in the film are truly remarkable. Looking at the scenery, whether it’s inside or outside of the studio the film mainly takes place in all add a lot of character to the surroundings. Not one place is the same as the other. It’s all very stylish, but enough to not be either distracting or lacking.

The cinematography was very impressive. Scenes where a director is shooting a scene with the cast (very meta) and watching how it all plays out is really dazzling to the eye. It’s the closest aspect of the film that audiences can get themselves truly immersed into. The entire movie feels like a huge homage to films, specifically during that given time period, and in that department, it succeeds.

This movie is a comedy, but something around the lines of “Birdman” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” not the kind of comedy that usually star Adam Sandler or Seth Rogen. Its comedy is definitely aimed towards the older mind than kids, but Coen Brother movies are generally aimed towards adults anyways.

In the end, “Hail, Caesar!” is one of the Coen Brothers projects that ranks low (with only seeing three of their other work). It does give great atmosphere that pays homage to the golden age of Hollywood and good performances out of the big cast. But it all gets thrown away by multiple stories that don’t really add much to anything in terms of character growth, leading to a disappointing experience.

Probably not liking “The Big Lebowski” much and being reminded so much of that movie in this one most likely didn’t help the overall experience of “Hail, Caesar!” In a way, it is recommended to see this movie if you like something like “The Big Lebowski”, but if you’re looking for a movie with a lot of character depth and more meaty story, the Coen Brothers have better products than this.