DVD Review: Hail, Caesar!

There’s a funny movie somewhere in “Hail, Caesar!” Joel and Ethan Coen’s latest is a darkish comedy/satire, but that movie is hidden beneath esoteric callbacks to old Hollywood that even this movie history lover couldn’t quite place.

Josh Brolin plays Eddie Mannix, a fictional take on the real-life “fixer” whose job it is to ensure that no lurid details about the movie studio’s brainless actors are revealed. (The only similarities between the real Eddie — yes, he actually existed — and the one in “Caesar” are the name and job title. Everything else is made up.)

Eddie finds himself in a real pickle when Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), the star of a “Ben Hur”-like epic is kidnapped by Communists from set one day. (It wouldn’t be a Coen brothers movie without a kidnapping.) The Coen brothers love to make the hunky Clooney look like a doofus, and you’ve got to admire the guy for always being game.

Couple Eddie’s personnel issue with the fact that Thora and Thessaly Thacker, dueling twin gossip columnists (both played by Tilda Swinton), are breathing down his neck for an exclusive.

There is also the problem of DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson), a water ballet siren who finds herself in the undesirable position of being pregnant and unmarried. A brief, humorous scene with Hollywood fallboy Joe Silverman (Jonah Hill) clears that problem right up.

Eddie must also deal with a flamboyant British director Laurence Laurentz (an amusing Ralph Fiennes), who believes Western movie star Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) good enough to star in his artsy film.

“Caesar” is slow at times for a 95-minute film, but some scenes could have gone on a little longer.

The sort-of villain Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum) does his best Fred Astaire in a wonderful tap dancing sequence that we could have watched for another 10 minutes.

There is a message in here somewhere about the ridiculousness of the Red Scare of the 1950s, but it’s not quite fleshed out. For a better take on that subject, check out last year’s “Trumbo.”

“Caesar” isn’t a “Fargo” or a “Big Lebowski” or even a “Burn After Reading,” but it’s still a Coen brothers movie after all. There are some laugh-out-loud, slapstick moments and some subtly amusing pieces of dialogue, but as a whole it’s nothing to hail.

Taylor Bigler Mace

Taylor Bigler Mace

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Taylor covers sports and maritimes for the Islander. As a native of Texas, she is an unapologetic Dallas Cowboys fan. [email protected]
Taylor Bigler Mace

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