With the Coen brothers directing and all-star cast including George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson and Tilda Swinton (to name a few), I had high hopes for Hail, Caesar! , but, unfortunately, I was very disappointed. I thought it was going to be a comedy about a movie studio being caught up in some wild “only-the-Coen-brothers-could-think-of-that” plot with a laugh around every corner. But it turned out to be a slow paced movie with a thin plot and a only few funny parts (most of which were shown in the trailer).
The plot focuses on a movie studio executive (Josh Brolin) struggling with his decision to keep his current stressful job of trying to manage all the shenanigans at the movie studio or to take a new “cush” job with Lockheed. The majority of the movie is just background noise illustrating all the shenanigans he has to try to keep under control on a daily basis.
My favorite parts of the movie were actually scenes of old time movies being filmed on the studio lot – an old style swim ballet (with Scarlett Johansson), a sailors’ song and dance number (with Channing Tatum) and a classy drama with the director (Ralph Fiennes) trying to make it work with a young, inexperienced cowboy (Alden Ehrenreich) cast as the star.
I will say all casting was superb – Josh Brolin as the movie exec, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum and Alden Ehrenreich as the movie stars, Tilda Swinton playing twin sister Hollywood reporters, Ralph Fiennes as a movie director , plus Jonah Hill and Frances McDormand in bit roles – all terrific. I especially enjoyed Scarlett Johansson’s role and would have liked to have seen more of her character. The makeup, costumes, sets and cinematography were also superb. It was a beautiful movie to watch.
I’m afraid the blame for this movie not working lies squarely with the Coen brothers. There was just not enough of a plot or a story to give this film enough “oomph”.