An excellent review of this film in the NYT. Maybe read before you watch if you're not up to speed with Coen brother films. As always for me with Coen brothers films, a second or third viewing brings out the details I missed the first time around. (Yep, Alden Ehrenreich, AKA Han Solo aka Hobie Doyle really was the funniest character)
"It’s a typically sly, off-center comedy, once again set against the machinery of the motion-picture business. And, as usual with the Coens, it has more going on than there might seem, including in its wrangling over God and ideology, art and entertainment. Some of it is familiar and satisfyingly funny, even if there are laughs and bits that seem as if they were written to amuse only the Coens and the Turner Classic Movies crowd."
If you don't try to compare this to some of the Coen Brothers other great films, this one holds up rather well. It's 1950s Hollywood and movie studio executive, Eddie Mannix (James Brolin), has a lot on his plate. Spoiler alert - one of his big stars, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom by "Hollywood-10" type screenwriters. They "intellectualize" about their cause and Baird buys in, hook, line, and sinker. All is tongue-in-cheek here with Scarlett Johansson as a smart-mouthed Esther Williams type and Channing Tatum as swishy song and dance man turned Soviet sympathizer. Frances McDormand has a hilarious moment as film editor while showing dailies to Mannix. Mannix has a crisis of conscious which seems a bit forced as he goes regularly to confession, but it serves to give the movie meaning. Of course there is impeccable detail to time and place - the kind the brothers always deliver. This 2016 film serves as antidote to 2015's 'Trumbo' which takes a more serious look at the fallout that befell those who identified as communists in early Hollywood. Maybe I'm taking an intellectual leap here, but I think the brothers are saying - don't look to the group ("Study Group") to tell you how to see the world, instead, look inside yourself for the answers.
The Coen Brothers are pure geniuses when it comes to comedy. Hail, Caesar is my second favorite next to O Brother, Where Art Thou. I understood the plot perfectly: Eddie Mannix has his hands full trying to keep all the actors belonging to the movie studio in line while at the same time he's thinking about taking another job with more money and lesser hours. You get to see behind the scenes lunacy of yesteryear film making along with the recreation of all the different genres from cowboy to musical to Biblical Epic. There's nothing about this film I don't like. The casting was perfect, the comedy is the laugh-out-loud kind, and the creativity of the whole thing is majorly impressive. I'm buying a copy of my own as soon as I can!
It's not for everyone but I really enjoyed it. If you like irony and nuances this is for you.
Clooney plays the fool in this delightful commentary comedy.
De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum (Roughly translated, There is no disputing taste.) That said, I can see no point in watching this film.
An old bit of advice, If you can't say something nice, say nothing at all.
Into the pot, stir in some big names, snazzy setting, flashy dance numbers and wacky humour. It sure looks and smells good, but tastes a bit flat. Cheque, please.
Extremely dull, slow paced, with no real point. There's no message in the end, nor real explanation for half of what happens. A literal example of throwing famous people into minor spots in a movie just to sell it. Lots of characters just to fill time because there's no investment in any (even the main character was only partially developed). In summary, a waste of time.
I don't rate Hollywood product these days so I wasn't expecting much from this. I'm also not a big fan of the Coen Brothers, although I give them points for trying. (I did like Raising Arizona though.) But this was more entertaining than I expected. A satire on '50s Hollywood with its dumbo leading men and women, directors frustrated by dealing the those "actors" and communist intellectuals who found themselves writing scripts in that industry town. The best scene has Ralph Fiennes as a director, trying to get a performance out of a man who was, just the day before, a cowboy stuntman!
The Coen brothers should stick to creepy crime movies. Turned it off after fighting boredom for half an hour.
I fell asleep at the opening credits which I know is my fault but I'm sure I'm not the only one who would've like to do that in retrospect. Am I right?
For all the big names in this, I thought it would be better. It's pretty difficult to follow - I wasn't a fan.
This is an examination of Christianity/ies in Hollywood in the guise of a clever, but dense satire of 1950s film making based loosely on the real life of MGM's "fixer" Eddie Mannix. A secondary, intertwined subject is the role of communism in Hollywood in the same era.
The film is, at times, funny and revealing. The Coens et al. really nailed the look and feel of the era's films, too. You've got to love the little, yappy dog's name.
I think to enjoy this movie you have to be at least passingly familiar with all the old Hollywood elements (film noir, musicals, Biblical epics, singing cowboys, high-society dramas, etc) that appear in it as pastiches. The Coens do a great job shooting the movie in the same style as those old movies they affectionately pastiche. I didn't need it to have a big message, just be entertained (which, as the film suggests, is what movies are all about, one way or another).
Interesting for its attempt to recreate the Hollywood of the early '50's, with the "Red Scare" and the looming competition from TV, but ultimately a failure.
The many individual characterizations, though incisively written and broadly acted, don't add up to any thing. What undercuts them, as in most Coen Brothers films, is not merely the episodic plot, but even more the contempt for the characters. The film is all cheap sneering and sniggering over Hollywood hypocrisy and corruption, but with nothing underneath to redeem our attention.
In the end, rather than indicting Hollywood, it exposes the Coen Brothers' own lack of humanity.
This may be the worst movie I've ever seen. Boring, pointless, poor, campy acting. If you have done something wrong, and feel that you must punish yourself for penance, watch this movie. It's got to be good for at least an armed robbery or two.
Made me realize how bad the movies were that the Coen brothers were spoofing.
There were some funny bits for sure but I expect much more from the Coen brothers. All the elements were there for a good film but somehow it just didn't come together. If you want to see a really funny film about the inside of the movie business watch The Player.
I understand the previous comment. I saw this in the theater and didn't like it, but just saw it again and it made more sense. It reviewed lots of the big stories of 50s Hollywood: the Communist accusations, the actress who adopted her own baby (Loretta Young) combined with the Esther Williams character who swam in all her movies, The Biblical epics etc. It was fun to try to figure out what actual event or story was being referred to.
Having seen the movie in the theater when it first came out, I'd have to say a second viewing (borrowed from the library - free!) was significantly more enjoyable than the first. Clooney plays his dumbest character, ever, as an almost instant convert to communism after his abduction. Instant Stockholm syndrome! Josh Brolin is Mr. Fix-it, a man with a conscience so wrapped tight he has to go to (Catholic) confession once a day.
A terrific movie that bears repeat watching.