You probably know me better by the book reviews I frequently post. I really love reading and take most requests, happy to return a truthful review. Today, I’ll take a major departure and review a video we watched recently called “Hail, Caesar.” Released February, 2016, you’ll either love it or won’t like it at all. I did–my two guys didn’t. Hubby slept through it; no contest as he can sleep through most anything. Son called it a bore. NOT.
Taking place back in the 50s heyday of Hollywood, Eddie Mannix (played supremely low key by Josh Brolin) is an savvy movie exec trying to handle all the problems of both his actors and film producers at Capitol Pictures. Today he is tackling a disgruntled director, a singing cowboy, Tobey (played adorably by Alden Ehrenreich), an Esther Williams type synchonized swimmer, and a handsome dancer. Mannix sneaks an occasional cigarette though he promised his wife he’d quit, and seeks forgiveness numerous times from a priest who tells him, “You’re really not that bad, my son. You don’t need to confess this often.”
Apparently aware of his aging, slightly sagging jowls, George Clooney makes the most of it and really gets my kudos starring as popular contemporary actor, Baird Whitlock. Clooney manages to look his worse as he clowns through his part as a gladiator in the filming of the epic “Hail, Caesar!” Unfortunately, he is kidnapped in full regalia including sword, which he handles badly, adding to Eddie’s already crazy day. Clooney does a masterful job at being an innocent dupe. Also starring are Channing Tatum, Frances McDormand, Jonah Hill, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, and Tilda Swinton.
While Eddie is trying to arrange the ransom to secure the release of Whitlock, the singing cowboy is using his western skills to track down and assure Whitlock’s safe return. Between the campy singing/dancing scene of the sailors reminiscent of the 40s war flicks, and the swimmer throwing her fish tail in a tantrum, the movie takes on major nostalgic comic relief.
Roger Ebert loved it, noting it was “An exhilarating switchup: A comic fable that’s both deftly clever and irrepressibly goofy.” Goofy it is! But you have to keep watching it or you’ll lose the development of the plot (hence hubby’s assessment). The review site “Rotten Tomatoes” gave it an 85 on their scale. (Perhaps not enough riveting action for my son.) The cover of the video calls it a “Comedic Tour de Force”. Hubby renamed it, “Comedic Tour de Farce”. No four letter words, no bloody encounters, no sex, or car bombs. From the Coen Brothers, I called it a feel good romp in moviedom and a relief from the palaver we’ve gotten from Hollywood lately. ©2016 Virginia Williams