In association with the Grosvenor
With an all-star cast and the Coen brothers once again at the helm, Hail Caesar! does not disappoint. About the Hollywood studio system of the 1950s, Hail Caesar! follows Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) as he tries to find film star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney, clearly enjoying himself) who has been kidnapped. What follows is an exploration of the behind the scenes of Classical Hollywood, with all the glamour and scandal that accompanies it.
Hail Caesar! feels like the Coen Brothers’ love letter to Classical Hollywood as they try and fit in as many different kinds of classical films, with elegant dramas, westerns and musicals all getting squeezed in. With two extended musical/dance numbers it starts to feel a bit gratuitous and bloated, but the actors – especially Channing Tatum in his Gene Kelly-esque tap dance spectacle – look like they’re having so much fun that the energy and zest they give the film is infectious, and stops the film from dragging too much.
If you’re looking for a traditional, tightly placed plot with strong characters, you won’t find it here. Hail Caesar!’s cast is mostly painted with broad strokes and the film is less of a narrative and more of a tour of a Hollywood Studio in the 1950s, held together with a flimsy plot to justify the spectacle. It meanders from plot point to plot point, picking up characters only to discard them a moment later with little disregard for reflection or character development. But then again, it doesn’t want to. Hail Caesar! is predominantly a comedy, looking into Hollywood’s past, and taking a snapshot of a system that was on its last legs.
It may be slightly thin on plot and characters, but Hail Caesar! more than makes up for it with enthusiasm. It’s silly and exciting and above all, fun. The Coen Brothers’ masterful use of timing and dialogue lends itself well to this kind of comedy, and its cast get the chance to let loose and enjoy themselves, with an infectious energy that creates a thoroughly entertaining film.