Movie Review: Hail, Caesar!

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MV5BMjQyODc3MTI2NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDMxMjU2NzE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_It’s more like Hail, Hollywood.

The title of the Coen Brothers-directed movie puts an emphasis on the star of a biblical ancient Rome epic (a movie within the movie), “Hail, Caesar!,” Baird Whitlock (George Clooney, “The Monuments Men,” “The Ides of March,” “The Descendant“).  Clooney plays a buffoon of a leading man.

But the film is actually centered around Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin, “Oldboy“), Capitol Pictures Studio’s head of production and all-around Hollywood fixer in the 1950s.  It’s a ludicrous lens into a day in his shoes.

Like holding an animated focus group of religious leaders to gain their opinions to ensure that a movie script would not offend reasonable Americans with varied faith and creed.

Or cooking up unorthodox methods to protect the reputation of a rising starlet (Scarlett Johansson, the “Avengers” series, “Captain America: Winter Soldier,” “Her“).  The icon of innocence, seen here playing a beloved mermaid, finds herself pregnant out of wedlock.  Something that would create a scandal back then.

And dealing with a perturbed director (Ralph Fiennes, “Skyfall“) when the studio makes a decision to take a befuddled cowboy actor (Alden Ehrenreich) and suddenly drops him in a high-society drama film.  The actor, whose sole experience is starring in Western movies, is also urged to make fast friends with the lead actress in public for image purposes.

Not to mention fending off twin-columnist, hungry gossipmongers (both portrayed by Tilda Swinton, “Michael Clayton“), sniffing for salacious exclusives.

As if Eddie’s fires couldn’t grow any bigger, Baird, in his drunken stupor, is kidnapped by a group of communist film writers.  They demand a $100K ransom in exchange of the release.  They find it a justified sum, as the studio makes the big bucks and none of them received any shares of the profit.  It gets more bizarre from there, as the money may be intended for another end goal.  It is up to Eddie to gather the cash and get his star back in time to resume the big-budget production.

Channing Tatum (“White House Down,” “Side Effects,” “Haywire“) makes a surprisingly amusing appearance as a forlorn sailor, leading a song-and-tap dance number.

All in a day’s work.  The work is trying and hours long.  It’s not that Eddie doesn’t have any other choice, however.  As a matter of fact, Lockheed Martin, an aviation giant, is wooing him with an attractive proposal to work for them and be in the ‘serious’ business of the future.

There is really no plot or character arc (see “Trumbo” instead), but by golly, it’s chock-full of chuckles and the cinematography is sumptuous.

Parodying the rich and famous in the Golden Age, “Hail, Caesar!” is an entertaining satire and love note to Hollywood.

Copyright (c) 2016.  Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a film columnist and has a movie blog, The MovieMaven( Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at

Nathalia Aryani is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic ( She has a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at [email protected]

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