I wanted to love this one.
I was waiting for this one since it was announced so this is a little heartbreaking. After the amazing Inside Llewellyn Davis, Hail, Caesar! is a letdown. A shame because it has so much good stuff in it. It’s a love letter to old school movie making. Big stars, amazing sets, gorgeous camera work due to the best lenser in the business, Roger Deakins. It just that this film is — thin. And if you love the Coen’s like I do, you can appreciate the complex layers that permeate their best work.
The biggest star in the world, Baird Whitlock, is kidnapped from the set of his latest feature, the biblical epic and Ben-Hur rip off, Hail Ceasar: A Tale of the Christ. Out to figure out who is behind this is studio fixer Eddie Mannix. When a stalet in another picture gets knocked up, who is there to fix it? Eddie Mannix. He shuffles from set to set dealing with simple minded actors ( one being Alden Emmerich, cast to perfection here as a western star turned serious actor), persnickety directors (one being a amazing Rafe Finnes) and over enthusiastic song and dance men (led by a winning Channing Tatum). And this is all under the eye of two snooty gossip columnists ( a pair of Hedda Hopper-esque Tilda Swintons – yes, she plays both parts).
These guys are master filmmakers. Fargo, The Big Lebowski, A Serious Man, Barton Fink, True Grit, No Country for Old Men…I mean, what a filmography. But then there are duds like The Lady Killers and Intolerable Cruelty. Look, even the masters have a few blemishes. I’m not saying this is in the same league as their worst films. Even their worst films are better then mod films out there. It’s just that it could’ve been better. I expected belly laughs and all I got was a few chuckles. Still, that Channing Tatum dance number is worth the price of a ticket. Just don’t go in with high hopes and you might have a good time.