Poignant, Comical Homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Channing
Tatum, Josh Brolin, Ralph
Fiennes, George Clooney, Tilda
Swinton, Jonah Hill, Dolph
Lundgren, Alison Pill, Frances
McDormand, Alden Ehrenreich
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 100 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures/Comcast
Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Executive Producer: Robert Graf
Producer: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Tim
Bevan, Eric Fellner
Writer: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Address Comments To:Brian L. Roberts, Chairman/CEO/President, Comcast Corp.
Stephen Burke, CEO, NBC Universal (a subsidiary of Comcast)
Jeff Shell, Chairman, and Ron Meyer, President/COO, Universal Studios
Diana Langley, Chairman, Universal Pictures
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608-1085
Phone: (818) 777-1000; Web Page: www.universalstudios.com
The movie begins with Mannix in a confessional, repenting of the fact he lied to his wife about quitting his smoking habit. Employed by the fictional studio Capital Pictures, Mannix is always busy putting out fires and fixing career-ending dilemmas in which actors and actresses keep finding themselves. Among Mannix’s headaches is a swimming star DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson), who becomes pregnant outside of wedlock right before production starts on her newest movie. Additionally, sophisticated Director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes) is furious he’s being forced to cast a verbally incompetent Western star by the name of Hobie Doyle.
The biggest problem of Mannix’s career, however, arises a group calling themselves “The Future” kidnaps major star Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), the lead in a major biblical epic. The group demands the studio pay $100,000, or else.
Pressed for time, Mannix pulls together the money while trying to ward off two twin sisters (Tilda Swinton), competing gossip columnists threatening to publish damaging rumors about Whitlock. During all this, Mannix receives a job offer from a private aviation company that would guarantee a lifetime of work, less stress and more time with his family. This difficult decision drives Mannix to seek guidance from his wife, his priest and God.
The long list of stars in HAIL, CAESAR!, as shown on movie posters and in trailers, is a bit deceiving, because many of them only have one or two scenes. The movie isn’t about them. It’s really about Eddie Mannix staying on top of his crazy job and his irresponsible, sometimes idiotic stars.
As such, HAIL CAESAR! is actually a comical homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood and the film genres of the past that made it so golden. It takes viewers behind the scenes of a busy studio lot in the 1950s. Uneven at times in plot, the movie makes up for itself with downright hilarious scenes, witty dialogue and poignant heart-filled moments. In Coen Brothers fashion, HAIL, CAESAR! finds many comedic moments in exaggerated, ridiculous situations, without falling into vulgarity.
Surprisingly, the movie has multiple moments where the Gospel is presented in an eloquent, powerful way. In one particular scene, Mannix brings in four religious leaders who discuss the theological accuracy of the studio’s new biblical epic, which is also titled HAIL, CAESAR! The faith leaders start debating the portrayal of Jesus. The rabbi insists Jesus be shown as just a man, but the priest argues in favor of Jesus being portrayed as the Son of God, the Savior of mankind. The priest beautifully sums up the Gospel, and the scene ends with hilarious banter that avoids being offensive.
[SPOILER ALERT] The movie’s big “twist,” which isn’t so big in the movie’s story itself, is that Whitlock’s kidnappers are a communist club of screenwriters who hang out in a fancy Malibu home and feel unappreciated. Whitlock, being the clueless person he is, spends a few days kicking it back with the communist screenwriters, having vague philosophical discussions about whether history is science or economics. Whitlock is easily influenced by the Soviet-obsessed nut jobs, but when he attacks capitalism back at the studio, Mannix literally smacks some sense into him, sending him off to film his final scene taking place at the feet of Jesus on the cross while commanding Whitlock to believe every repentant word he’s about to speak. This comical setup ultimately turns out to be quite moving. [END OF SPOILERS]
Overall, HAIL, CAESAR! has its entertaining moments, though the movie’s quirky style won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. The movie’s overt representation of Christian faith is refreshing for a Hollywood production, and Movieguide® commends the Coen Brothers for it. HAIL, CAESAR! does have a few strong profanities, however, and a reference to sodomy, so caution is advised.
HAIL, CAESAR! finds many comedic moments in exaggerated, ridiculous situations, without falling into vulgarity. Surprisingly, the movie has multiple moments where the Gospel is presented in an eloquent, powerful way. Overall, it has its entertaining moments, though the movie’s quirky style won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. The representation of faith is refreshing for a Hollywood movie, and Movieguide® commends the Coen Brothers for it. HAIL, CAESAR! does have a few strong profanities however, and one or two off-color innuendoes, so caution is advised.