Hail, Caesar! not a pleaser


Capitol Pictures. Confusion. Clooney in a leather skirt.

The Coen Brothers’ new film Hail, Caesar! is a perplexing maelstrom of entertainment, comedy and complete and utter bewilderment.

It tells a tale that’s difficult to describe without giving away too much of the plot.

Set in the 1950s, a (very) fictionalized version of real-life movie mogul Eddie Mannix spends the film trying to track down Baird Whitlock (portrayed by George Clooney), the star of Capitol Pictures’ latest movie, who has mysteriously gone missing.

Whitlock stars in the Roman-era epic Hail, Caesar! which, confusingly, has the same name as the film I’m reviewing. An extra drugs his drink on the set, then abducts him from his dressing room.

The film then proceeds to go completely off the rails.

It brings in multiple plot points that are introduced and then never concluded.

This includes: an inept actor with a Southern drawl who is commissioned to act in a Victorian-era film; an actress who is pregnant and needs to find a husband so as to not appear as a single mother to the public; Channing Tatum singing and dancing in a sailor suit; a mysterious group known as “The Future,” and more.

The benefit of making a movie about making movies is the flexibility it offers to play with a range of time periods.

We see movie sets from ancient Rome, Victorian times, the 1800s Wild West, and the 1920s and ’30s (hence Tatum dancing in a sailor suit.)

But Hail, Caesar! doesn’t take advantage of all this.

A couple of parts show scenes being shot for the other movies, but they’re all out of context and add no value to the plot.

The film was entertaining and funny.

It’s chock-full of witty banter and light teasing of the Golden Age film era.

The mise-en-scene was well done, and many of the shots were well-put together and aesthetically attractive.

I was too busy trying to make sense of the plot, though, to truly enjoy it.