Hail, Caesar! Review

The Coen Brothers return to the directors chair in this lighthearted comedy about a fixer who has little time to do a lot of fixing. Led by Josh Brolin, the comedy features an ensemble of various big stars in rather small roles, except for Alden Ehrenreich, who basically steals the whole show. While it won’t go down as a Coen Classic, it does it’s job in satisfying the viewer.

The film starts off with a man in a confession booth, who breaks down while saying he lied to his wife by saying he stopped smoking cigarette’s. After words, the man goes and finds an actress who is taking racy photos, and makes her stop. The man is then revealed to be Eddie Mannix, a fixer who happens to be the head of a film studio. As Brolin’s Mannix goes around fixing various problems for actors and directors around the studio, one of the best actors, played by George Clooney, gets kidnapped, forcing Mannix to go and figure out a way to get him back.

The film has potential, but when something interesting is beginning to happen, the story falls flat. You’d think that with a plethora of talent from Scarlett Johansson to Tilda Swinton that the Coen’s would give the cast something more to do, however most of the top-billed stars hardly have more than one or two scenes. In fact, the standout of the whole movie is Alden Ehrenreich, whose sweet Hobie is what drives most of the film.

Aside from Brolin and Clooney, the rest of the big names never really shine, but mostly just deliver an average performance that doesn’t wow anyone. This could be due to the script never really having moments for them to shine, but also is sad considering they has the opportunity to make the film great.

Calling the film a comedy is a stretch, because while it has the atmosphere and bizarre situation, it rarely takes the film in a funny place. Tilda Swinton’s twin characters were wacky and bizarre, but never really have that shock and awe moment. Ralph Fiennes character is reminiscent of his wonderful turn in “The Grand Budapest Hotel” but is outshined by Alden Ehrenreich’s character. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum hardly do anything, which is equally a blessing and curse.

The only real thing about the film that makes it conversation worthy is it’s portrayal of religion. Religion is the most common motif throughout the film, with Mannix constantly trying to find an answer to his problems with prayer and confession, as well as the big movie being made having such strong religious ties. Considering how nonreligious Hollywood seems to be, it’s a surprise that the film tried to connect the two so heavily. It could’ve even brought up a wonderful study of religion and Hollywood itself, but follows the pattern of not really going there.

While the Coen’s haven’t struck gold, they’ve certainly shown that even great directors can have duds, even if they are enjoyable duds. Here’s praying that Alden Ehrenreich uses this film to become a bigger name, since he definitely has what it takes.

Cast: B+
Script: B-
Cinematography: B
Score: B+
Overall: B

 

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