Hail, Caesar!: A Disappointment from the Coen Brothers

I am a huge fan of the Coen Brothers, and have loved every film of theirs that I have seen. I saw their newest film Hail, Caesar! over the weekend and was extremely disappointed. The Coen Brothers are fantastic directors and writers, but they seriously missed with this film. The plot really doesn’t go anywhere and really fails to interest. There are way too many characters and their stories really don’t intersect or depend on each other. The film actually received pretty positive reviews and even an Oscar nomination for production design, but I really was not a fan.

The film centers on Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), a producer in 1950s Hollywood, who specializes in fixing the problems of the studio’s stars. These problems range from casting decisions to unmarried actresses becoming pregnant to one of the studios biggest stars being kidnapped. The actor that is kidnapped is Baird Whitlock, who is played by George Clooney. I think if the film had focused on the kidnapping storyline, the film could have been much improved. The film tries to have a large focus on many of the characters, which causes the kidnapping conflict to feel rushed and unresolved. It is certainly interesting to see the scale of Mannix’s job, but it takes away from the overall story. There are simply too many characters and problems to properly address them all in a two hour film.


Image source

I mentioned before that the film was nominated for an Oscar in Production Design, which I do actually believe that it deserved because the film looks great. There are several scenes which are clips from fictional films the studio has made. The scenes really resemble films from the 1950s in all aspects. I was very impressed with the look of this film.

For me I think this film will always be unfairly compared to the other great films from the Coen Brothers. The film definitely has some entertaining moments and has an amazing cast including Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, Johan Hill, and Frances McDormand, among others. This incredible cast all gives strong, but small and limited performances. When compared to the Coen Brother’s great films like Fargo (1996), The Big Lebowksi (1998), No Country for Old Men (2007), and others it is hard not to be disappointed at the lackluster plot of this film. I also believe that if the film had focused more on and further developed the kidnapping conflict and the characters involved that the film could have really been great. If you are to see this film, do not expect the greatness of the other Coen Brother’s films because I believe like me you will come out very disappointed.

Here is a very positive review of the film.

-Walker Rise

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7 Responses to Hail, Caesar!: A Disappointment from the Coen Brothers

  1. mediaphiles says:

    Again, it seems like another visually pleasing film that relied on aesthetics and an all-star cast to carry the movie, and ultimately failing. I agree the Coen bros can be great filmmakers at times, but it sounds like this recent flick failed.

    -Meg Schmit

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I totally agree. It is far from the best work of the Coen brothers, and does not live up to the hype for such a dazzling cast. On the other hand, I went to watch it knowing all the negative reviews, so I lowered my expectations and, as it turned out, I can still enjoy the movie. It is a call back of the golden days of studio Hollywood, with some enjoyable characters and funny comment on the cold war. There are still things to love about it!

  3. mediaphiles says:

    While I haven’t seen this film, I think you bring up a good point about the problem of trying to do too much in so little time. I think its a tough trap to fall into, which can happen quite often, to forget that the audience has two hours to spare on a story that needs to cohesive have a beginning, middle, and end.

    – Lydia

  4. mediaphiles says:

    While yes, this isn’t the strongest Coen Brothers film, I still found the film a fun time and I liked what they did with the cluttered story. Mannix is a very involved producer that deals with a lot of problems, and I think what the film is saying is that even though an actor is kidnapped, sometimes the producers are so caught up in all their other problems with their films that they’ll periodically forget or get sidetracked from the major issue at hand, which is pretty funny if you think about it. I really enjoyed this film, I think that the Coens treated this more as a love letter to Old Hollywood than a comedic kidnapping film, and they fully embrace the love letter aspect and give several nods to Old Hollywood.


  5. mediaphiles says:

    I loved No Country For Old Men, but have yet to see Hail Caesar. I heard that it is not their best work. I will have to check it out before I can make a real opinion on it.
    -Jordan Hansgen

  6. mediaphiles says:

    I agree that this film was a huge disappointment. I felt like they were trying to win a bet for how many famous actors/actresses they could pack into one movie. The plot was so random and it completely lost me. I remember that I kept waiting for the moment where everything would come together and I would finally understand what was happening, but that moment never came. The costumes were great though.


  7. mediaphiles says:

    I think you’re right, it is definitely not the best Coen Brothers film. In fact it could be their worst, but even then it is better than other mainstream films. The worst of the Coen Brothers is often times incredible compared to other works. That being said, this film feels very tongue in cheek, as if the pair are saying “it’s impossible to make a movie. look at the ridiculous things we have to deal with.”

    I still loved the film. It’s one of those movies you chuckle at and then laugh at when the set pieces become absurd.

    – Russell Lawrence

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