Coen Brothers’ dry film disappoints with pointless jokes and lazy acting
Review by Adam Winn, Staff writer
Joel and Ethan Coen, most recognizably-known as the Coen Brothers, are acknowledged for creating and directing several cult classic films, such as “No Country for Old Men,” “The Big Lebowski” and “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” Unfortunately, this time around the Coen Brothers have released a movie titled “Hail, Caesar!” with a plot so forgettable and boring that even their biggest fans might want to skip out on watching this one.
The plot is set in the middle of the 1950s Hollywood entertainment industry and follows a studio executive named Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), whose job is maintaining order and fixing problems that arise on movie sets.
While working on a new film titled “Hail, Caesar!” the leading star of the movie, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), is secretly drugged and kidnapped by a couple of the extras working on the set.
The people responsible for the abduction are revealed to be a group of radical communists and are holding the movie star hostage for a ransom of $100,000. Mannix tries to keep the abduction under wraps, while still trying to maintain control over the multiple movies for which he is responsible.
It’s essential to mention that this film doesn’t contain a simple plot narrative, but many sub-stories linked together, which makes it extremely difficult to follow the story at certain points. The plot was overly drawn out and kept bouncing from character to character – introducing new ones and forgetting old ones in the process.
The movie is designed to be a comedy, but unfortunately most of the jokes throughout the film weren’t funny. Most of the humor in the film is very dry and appears to be aimed at an older or middle-aged audience.
There is one scene in particular where a struggling actor with a country accent named Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) is having trouble reciting one of his lines. The film’s director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes) stops filming and offers the actor some one-on-one instructions. The director has Doyle repeat the difficult line “Would that it were so simple,” and they both end up repeating the line back and forth for, no joke, almost a solid five minutes. This is the type of humor the entire film tries to convey–sometimes succeeding – but most of the time, it just becomes repetitive and annoying.
Certain cast members were advertised in the film’s trailer as having larger supporting roles, such as Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson and Jonah Hill, among others. However, these roles essentially are just small cameo appearances instead, with Tatum only appearing in three scenes, Johansson in two scenes and Hill in one scene.
The acting was – for the most part – lazy, and none of the actors seemed to be invested in their individual roles. While watching the film, it almost felt like they each took the acting job for the paycheck and screen recognition but nothing more.
Viewers, however, are likely to appreciate the film’s overall set and costume design, giving the appearance that the movie could have been shot in ’50s. The cinematography is definitely the best part about the film, giving the picture an added nostalgic feeling, but not even the beautifully shot scenes could save the movie from the train wreck it became.
During the film, the character Mannix is consistently checking his watch for the time. Viewers are likely to be doing the same thing while watching the film, wondering if this movie is ever going to end.
“Hail, Caesar!” had the potential to be a great film with a good plot and cast, but for the most part, just turned out to be a dull and uninteresting flick that takes up nearly two hours of time that the audience will never get back.