Hail, Caesar!: Film Review


I love movies based in the movie industry and I do love a good cast and Hail, Caesar! filled both criteria. I was still not 100% confident I would like it because I do not enjoy all the Coen brothers’ work, but I was still hoping for more than what it ultimately gave.

Josh Brolin is Eddie Mannix, a fixer at Capitol Pictures in the 1950s, who sorts out problems and potential publicity scandals. We basically follow him for a couple of days as he deals with many issues – most of all that Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), the star of the current production of Hail Caesar, has been kidnapped by Communists. Then there’s actress DeAnna (Scarlett Johansson) who is pregnant and unmarried, western star Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) who is having trouble adjusting to dramas, and the threat of Baird’s disappearance going public by twin gossip columnists Thora and Thessaly (both Tilda Swinton).


As I said, I love watching movies about movies so the setting was fantastic and so much fun. I enjoyed it when the film moved between different sets so we can see the productions – especially Channing Tatum’s Gene Kelly-style tap routine (the most impressive scene of the movie), Johansson’s aquatic number and Clooney’s rambling speeches in the Roman epic. Those are genius, hilarious and a total joy to watch.

It just feels odd then that the film as a whole is disappointing. The overarching plot was a bit lightweight and fluffy and I guess the pacing was off. I can’t put my finger on exactly what was wrong with it when I liked so many of the individual scenes. It is a comedy but I didn’t laugh much at all. Although there is one scene with Hobie as we learn he cannot act in dramas and the exchange between him and the director Laurence (Ralph Fiennes in a wonderful but small part) is so awkward but brilliant. I will pay attention to Ehrenreich from now on – he was my favourite character in the entire film. I enjoyed Tatum’s dancing (especially as he learned to tap for this), Johansson’s accent and Swinton’s homage to Hedda Hopper (who was recently portrayed by Helen Mirren in Trumbo). There were also cameos from Frances McDormand and Jonah Hill.


See, I can reel off a whole list of elements I liked about Hail, Caesar! yet I was still underwhelmed and unexcited by the whole package. I found the scenes with the Communists boring and Clooney was only funny when acting in the fake movie. Michael Gambon’s narration is quite slow and Mannix just seemed too relaxed although he had a million problems to solve at the same time – both of these factors made it unengaging too often.

This comedy is not one of the Coen brothers’ standout pieces but it is far better than some other efforts. It is fun most of time but not the laugh out loud riot I was expecting. Don’t write it off though because some of the individual scenes are incredible and the movie snippets within this movie are bloody brilliant.

In cinemas now 


  1. We certainly felt the same about our favourite scenes and performances!


  2. “I do not enjoy all the Coen brothers’ work…” Oh, wonderful Hannah, I fear we can no longer be friends. =0( But of course, I’ll still tune in for your amazing posts! XOXOX


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