Already being familiar with the Coen Brothers’ work, I knew what to expect with Hail Caesar! Like many of their other movies, this film combines a serious story line with the quirky humor that has become a bit of a trademark. That being said the movie takes place in the early 50’s and revolves around the film industry around that time. Anyway, it stars Josh Brolin as a Hollywood “fixer,” someone who fixes the problems of Hollywood stars to make sure they keep their wholesome image. In addition George Clooney plays a big film star named Baird Whitlock, and various other big names in supporting roles.
The title of the movie is, in itself, a reference to a movie within a movie. The movie in question is a biblical epic said to be one of the biggest movies ever made. It stars Baird Whitlock (Clooney), one of the biggest stars in the world, in the lead as a Roman Emperor. However, the production is halted when Whitlock is kidnapped by a communist cell calling itself “the future.” As a result, the movie revolves around the quest for Whitlock’s freedom. Speaking of Whitlock though, he falls victim to what can best be described as a ludicrous example of Stockholm syndrome. In doing so he starts to believe the communist propaganda, even comparing communism to an experience where he shaved the back of Danny Kaye (the great comic actor) at the other’s insistence.
Unfortunately, not every joke in the movie is as brilliantly executed as this. Much of the humor actually falls flat, making this one of their lesser movies. However, with the Coen, that’s not saying much. Even though the movie may not be laugh out loud funny throughout, its still exceptionally entertaining. Beyond that, the movie is still worth watching for anyone with even a remote interest in film history. Not to mention some of the casting choices were brilliant, especially that of Channing Tatum.