I have never been a wiz at math, but the Coen Brothers plus Hollywood’s golden age sounds like it equals pure entertainment. It seems no one has made more diverse film choices than the Coen’s in the last thirty years. From comedies like “Raising Arizona” and “The Big Lebowski” to dramas like “Blood Simple” and “No Country for Old Men”, you really never know what you are going to get with this pair. And while the tone may vary, the quality rarely ever does, so one can pretty much say that a Coen Brothers film is about as close to a seal of an approval you can get.
Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is one of those Hollywood fixer guys. He is the guy the studio calls when they need something cleaned up. Mannix has a lot going on in his life right now; mainly he is being offered a better job as he battles everyday life at his current one. Part of that stress is caused when his biggest star Baird Whitlock (Clooney) goes missing during filming of the big studio picture. When a ransom letter arrives demanding one hundred thousand dollars, for the return of the actor, things get complicated. While Mannix is trying to get Whitlock back, he is also juggling other problems that need his attention. Like DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) being pregnant without a husband, and one of his big directors Laurence Laurrentz (Ralph Fiennes) needing a star for his newest film. With all this going on, and a Channing Tatum song and dance scene, “Hail, Casear!” must be magic right?
While I stated that a film written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen pretty much equals goodness up above, they have been known to test that statement once an awhile. When it comes to “Hail Casear!” it is a film that falls in the bottom two thirds of their work, which is a level a lot of filmmakers, will never reach. The film is sold as a kidnapping movie, and being a Coen’s film, you know a suitcase of money is involved. While Clooney is good in so much, here he is over-shadowed by the rest of the cast. In fact with more stars than the sky on a clear night, the acting is the best part of this film. Where it falters is in the direction, as it feels like a lot of ideas were half-baked, but somehow they all made it into the film. You have everything from a singing cowboy to a Russian sub showing up off the coast of California and a lot in-between. With that said, while this may just be an “average Coen Brothers” movie, it’s still a lot of fun, with more than a few scenes making up for the ones that miss. There are better choices out there when it comes to the Coen’s movies, but since their films are so uniquely their own it’s kind of hard to miss one. So watch your back, and even though this could have been greatness, it still has that quirky Coen-esque quality and some memorable performances.