Film Review: ‘Hail, Caesar!’ is Coen Bros. Excellence for Movie Lovers

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CHICAGO – Writer/directors Joel and Ethan Coen love the movies, and that love is magnificently played out in “Hail, Caesar!” As they riff on religion, geopolitics and 1950s morality, while wonderfully celebrating and spoofing an era in movies that will never be again, the Coens abide and deliver.

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 5.0/5.0

This film is a celebration, couched in references to other studio-era stars, the communist scare of McCarthyism (the Coens do it better than the film “Trumbo,” which was directly about that witch hunt), and the odd personalities that people once had, as celebrity culture was something still being invented. Josh Brolin is in the middle of the madness, as a over-scheduled studio head whose days spent as a “fixer” are hilarious as they are defining. The film works on all levels – as comedy, social commentary and allegory – but it never is pretentious, and prefers a light touch over any other type of narrative.

Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is head of Capitol Pictures in 1951, in an era where big movie studios still held a fraying cultural sway against the juggernaut of the new invention called television. He has several problems at once – his New York City boss wants to put cowboy star Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) in a sophisticated society film, aquatic film diva DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johanssen) has just found out she’s pregnant and oh yes, matinee idol Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) has just been kidnapped off the set of “Hail, Caesar.”

This leads everyone down the rabbit hole of the shadowy and closeted 1950s, as Mannix needs to fix everything, while under the watchful eyes of sister gossip columnists (both portrayed by Tilda Swinton). In the meantime, Lawrence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes), the director who is saddled with the cowboy star, is hopping mad, and the only production that is going smoothly is a jaunty sailor musical starring song-and-dance man Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum).

“Hail, Caesar!” opens nationwide on February 5th. See local listings for theaters and show times. Featuring George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Channing Tatum, Frances McDormand and Jonah Hill. Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Rated “PG-13”

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Hail, Caesar!”

George Clooney
Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) is a Bit Confused in ‘Hail, Caesar!’
Photo credit: Universal Pictures

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Hail, Caesar!”

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