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Hail, Caesar! Review

Ian McLaughlin, Contributor

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Set in the “Golden Age” of film making, the 1950s, Eddie Mannix (Josh
Brolin) runs a movie production company and is tasked with keeping
operations running smoothly and keeping the loose cannon acting stars
in line. Between a kidnapping, scandalous pregnancies, communist
plots, and unrelenting gossip columnists, Mannix has a full plate. As
the movie opens it is clear he works around the clock, often missing
time with his family, to keep everything from falling apart. Mannix is
struggling wether to decide to accept a cushy job offer in a higher
paying, but less exciting industry and has to decide what he loves and
what is important to him.
The casting was consistently very good. George Clooney, playing Baird
Whitlock, steals the show as an alcoholic film star debating
philosophy with a secret organization of communists within the film
community. Along with Clooney, the rest of the casting is on point and
give stellar performances.
As is expected from a Coen Brothers film, Mannix’s indecision sets up
the first, and perhaps central, conflict of a complicated,
multilayered plot. A film buff will appreciate the frequent head nods
to that era of film production, however the plot tackles a deeper
topics than just the snap shot of 1950’s Hollywood that is presented
on the surface, such as the dangers of celebrity culture, morality in
the work place, and religion. It often mixes these more serious themes
with brilliantly written comedy, exhibiting the dual focus of the
film. Additionally, as the film goes on, several other subplots arise,
subtly weaving together while also establishing a sense of humor
unique to the Coen Brothers. Several parts throughout the movie had
myself, and the rest of the theatre, reeling in laughter from the
dialogue and the generally funny characters created. Many of these
subplots add very little to the film, and often obscure the plot
unnecessarily; the Jonah Hill cameo comes to mind.
Strangely enough, the worst aspect of the movie was the marketing for
it. The trailers portray the movie as a simple, “Who did it?” story of
a star actor being kidnapped. While this is an aspect of the movie for
sure, that and other subplots take a back seat to following Eddie
Mannix’s day to day job. Fairly little concern or screen time is given
to the actual kidnapping and the other parts of the movie shown in the
trailers. For example, Jonah Hill is on the poster of the movie but he
appears in only one scene that is short and relatively unimportant.
Typically, marketing should not really be considered when discussing
the quality of the movie, however it was very jarring and it seemed
that everyone in the theatre did not get the movie they were quite
expecting.
In conclusion the movie is consistently good throughout, but lacks
focus and meanders too much towards humorous scenes that lack in
substance. It’s enjoyable to watch and well acted on all levels. The
movie overall is on the line of overly complicated and expertly
crafted making for a decent, but flawed experience. 7/10

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Hail, Caesar! Review