BY IVAN FLORES
“Hail, Caesar!” is a comedy directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. It stars Josh Brolin as Eddie Mannix, the head of production for a major movie studio in a 1950s Hollywood setting. The movie gets its name from a drama the studio is producing about Christ. George Clooney plays an actor named Baird Whitlock, who has the lead role in the movie. “Hail Caesar!” follows Mannix’s quest to find Whitlock after he’s been kidnapped, while managing numerous other productions and the personal lives of the actors in them.
Mannix is a quick-thinking and unfazed problem solver. He is also a devout Catholic who goes to confession way too often, about once every 24 hours. The opening scene finds Mannix taking time out of his busy schedule to seek absolution. Immediately afterwards, he begins his workday by busting a compromising photoshoot of a young starlet and dragging her away – at five in the morning.
Back at the studio, he has other headaches to deal with; an actress having a child out of wedlock, a cowboy who can’t act putting on a drama, and a panel of religious leaders who can’t tell him if “Hail, Caesar!” is blasphemous or not (probably the funniest scene in the movie).
He also has Lockheed Martin wooing him at the worst possible moments. When things can’t possibly get any more hectic, Whitlock is kidnapped by communists. Somehow, Mannix manages to fend off the tabloids and fix all of the problems in the space of 27 hours.
“Hail Caesar!” is an entertaining film, but not as funny as one might expect. There were parts of the movie that were clearly meant to be funny and drew nothing but silence from the audience. For example, there’s a scene where one of the communists makes a getaway in a Soviet Submarine and drops a briefcase with $100,000 into the ocean, and the one thing that comes to mind is, “What is this accomplishing?” Also, the multiple storylines are distracting, and the climax isn’t too exciting.
However, the movie definitely had its moments and was a little bit thought-provoking. One does not have to subscribe to communist ideology to appreciate the arguments put forth by the communists in the film, even in the silly way they are portrayed. There is also the matter of Mannix’s character. Despite the fact that he looks to his church for guidance, he engages in questionable practices to accomplish his job. And, although Lockheed Martin offers him a job that would pay him more and allow him to fulfill his responsibilities as a husband and father, he puts his work first.
“Hail Caesar!” is worth watching. Those who have background knowledge and appreciation of Hollywood’s Golden Age may find themselves enamoured with the movie. For the average plebeian, it’s probably a better movie choice than something like “The Dictator.” It may also just be a good movie choice for a future “Netflix and chill time.”
Runtime: 1 hr 46 minutes