Review of the Coen Brothers’ Hail Caesar! by Soren Gran ’16

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The Coen Brothers’ newest film. Hail, Caesar! is about many people and plots, but its overarching story is one of a week in Hollywood, as the movie follows various situations at Capitol Studios. I enjoyed the movie. It had a lot of good parts.

The movie starts strong with a hilarious opening scene. The main character, Eddie Mannix, consults four experts on four faiths (Catholicism, Judaism, Eastern Orthodox, and a Protestant denomination) about if the main film of his parent studio will offend anybody. The experts get into an argument about the legitimacy of Jesus Christ instead of discussing if the film, Hail, Caesar!, will offend anybody theologically. The experts carry on a fast-paced, quick-witted discussion before agreeing that the film is good and will not offend.

The opening scene sets a strong tone for the rest of the movie, and my expectations were high. After all, Hail, Caesar! had done well with critics, and the Coen brothers have a history of funny, quirky movies (see The Big Lebowski).

Unfortunately, Hail, Caesar! did not live up to my hopes. The film is interesting – it tells the story of twin reporters, a knocked up actress, a Communist plot that puts George Clooney on to Marx, a Western actor who struggles to speak without an accent. The stories are funny, but the movie feels more like a collection of subplots that a cohesive film with a strong plot.

This is disappointing, especially considering the strong cast: George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Josh Brolin, Jonah Hill, and Ralph Fiennes, among others. Some of the appearances from these big names feel like cameos – Jonah Hill has only two minutes of screentime.

I was disappointed. My first comment upon leaving the theatre was, “It felt like a Wes Anderson movie without the plot.” Indeed, when I first saw the trailer for Hail, Caesar! I expected to see Wes Anderson’s name at the end. The Coen Brothers do well to create a great movie in every way except the most important – the storyline that unites the characters and makes the movie memorable. Hail, Caesar!, unfortunately, does not have this.

Søren Gran ‘16

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