This weekend for my Valentine’s Day present, P took me to The Big City to get out of our small town and see a movie I’ve been wanting to, but couldn’t here: Hail, Caesar!
I love the Coen brothers. I haven’t seen their whole body of work, but I’m slowly working on it. Seriously, if I showed you my list of movies and TV shows that I need to watch, you’d ask me if I’m also planning on finding a cure for mortality so I can find the time to watch them all. In the same vein as Burn After Reading and their other quirky, spoofy comedies, Hail, Caesar! is a slow comedy with some amazing acting by a large ensemble cast.
The story revolves around Eddie Manix (Josh Brolin) and follows a day in his life working as a “fixer” for a large Hollywood studio in the 1950s. The problems he’s fixing range from an unmarried pregnant actress (Scarlett Johansson) to a kidnapped lead (George Clooney) of the studio’s big budget, high publicity movie Hail, Caesar! In the midst of this, he’s also trying to quit smoking and is mulling over an offer for another job at Lockheed Martin.
Having majored in film in college, I caught a lot more of the subtle references and nods to the big studios, famous stars, and filming techniques. In a way, Hail, Caesar! is a comedic ode to the old Hollywood glamour of the 1950s (and the grimy secrets covered up by that glamour), and I’d say it handles it nicely. The predicament Johansson’s character finds herself in and the solution they come up with is a nod to Loretta Young’s adoption of her own daughter Judy Lewis (her conception is a whole other issue). Since I was familiar with a lot more of the nods, I found the movie more enjoyable than P did, since he missed a lot of the humorous odes to filmmaking. To P, the film felt aimless or jumbled, but my argument was that the real plot is whether or not he should take the job at Lockheed Martin. We as the audience see him working hard in his job as fixer, enjoying it and being great at it, while in the back of his head he mulls over taking a cushy, easy job.
Even without catching the references, though, it is a highly entertaining movie. The performances are fantastic, the writing superb. If you’re a Coen brother fan, a fan of dry comedy, a fan of 1950s Hollywood, old movies, or any one member of the huge ensemble cast (there’s a fantastically quotable scene with Ralph Fiennes, it’s still making me laugh) then you’ll definitely want to check out Hail, Caesar! This film geek thoroughly recommends it.