Hail, Caesar! Review

So I finally got around to watching a few more of the Coen brother’s films. I learned that they are very talented people! They can do gritty drama very well (No Country for Old Men) and they can do lighthearted comedy very well (O Brother, Where Art Thou?). However, as of late, their quality has been dropping in the movies they write (at least I think so). With 2014’s boringly slow, Unbroken, last year’s slightly disappointing Bridge of Spies, and now… oh boy. We’ve got an interesting one today. Hail, Caesar! is directed and written by Joel and Ethan Coen. Stars-Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Tilda Swinton, and Channing Tatum. Premise-A Hollywood studio manager (Brolin) struggles to keep the actors of his newest epic film in check, which will prove very difficult when his leading star (Clooney) disappears.
Look, if you like this movie, enjoy it, you have a right to do so. However, if you ask me, I’d give it a pass. There are so many better options out there, especially from the Coen’s. Just keep two things in mind. First, you have to go into this movie knowing that it takes place in the 1950’s, and second, I don’t dislike the movie just because it’s a subpar film from the highly acclaimed Coen Brothers.
I must acknowledge that Hail, Caesar! looks astounding. The lighting, cinematography, set design, and costumes really give the movie the necessary atmosphere. The acting is fine, with Josh Brolin, Tilda Swinton, and Ralph Finnes standing out as the most entertaining, and some of the jokes are well-timed and hilarious.
If you are surprised at how I could fit all of the positives into a paragraph with less than 50 words, than that means we’re in the same boat. Man, does this movie have problems! For one, this movie wasted its powerhouse cast! There are so many acting giants in this movie (among the previously listed, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Jonah Hill, Ralph Finnes, and more), and so many of them get 3 minutes or less of screen time. Instead, that time goes to this new kid Alden Ehrenreich, who is not a pleasant actor. Whether or not he was directed to act as awkward as he did doesn’t matter because he’s not entertaining to watch. It doesn’t help when most of the jokes are not very funny. The biggest problem is that so many of the jokes consist of a single joke that continually drags on. For example, there is a scene where this guy who can’t act has to be constantly corrected by the impatient director. This scene goes on for at least 3 minutes (it felt like 10), and it became boring very quickly. Speaking of dragging on, the movie’s pace is unacceptably slow! It’s runtime is 20 minutes longer than it should be. Entire scenes should have been cut. There are two musical numbers, and while they look and sound nice, they contribute next to nothing for the plot. Musical numbers are supposed to do something that benefits the story! While the second musical does introduce a certain character, it does next to nothing to establish that character (which would have made the story much stronger). The rest of the writing is just about as concrete. There is a narrator who does nothing but state information that we already know, and when they ultimately reveal the bad guy, boy does it make no sense whatsoever. This character had no development, so it confused the heck out of me when they revealed it. There is a line of dialog that explains it, but it is so forced, so expositional, and so out-of-the-ordinary, that I swear it was written in at the last second just to clarify the story to the audience.
This movie is not funny enough to be worth watching, and it’s not smart enough to be worth intelligently discussing. With that said, I know a large amount of the general audience enjoyed this movie, and that’s perfectly fine. However, if you ask me, I’d rather watch Kung Fu Panda 3. Hail, Caesar! gets Guy’s Guru Grade of a C+.

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