I’m going to make a confession — as I’ve gotten older, I sometimes have a tendency to fall asleep in the movie theater. What hasn’t helped is that the theater I most often frequent went through a complete renovation a ways back, making all of the seating much more comfortable. You never ever have to deal with the old problem of people behind you kicking the seats in front of them, disturbing everyone in that row from the vibrations. It feels like you are in a really comfortable recliner at home — you can even rest the container of popcorn on your stomach (if you are a popcorn person). I never have to deal with feeling cramped because I have no leg room, like I’d sometimes have to.
So when I say that the very first time I went to see this film, I practically slept through more than half of the movie is not really a reflection on the movie itself, but on the comfort I was feeling and maybe a little bit of a lack of sleep. However, I enjoyed the movie well enough that I swore I’d go back and see it again, this time without drifting off into oblivion. And I finally got to do that earlier this evening.
“Hail, Caesar!” is a film written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. I’ve been a fan of the Coen Brother’s work since I saw their first major film, “Blood Simple”, a thriller about jealousy and revenge. “Raising Arizona”, another early film of theirs, is, in my opinion, one of the most hilarious comedy films ever made.
“Hail, Caesar!” is a comedy about the movie business in the 1950s. Josh Brolin plays Eddie Mannix, a troubleshooter for Capital Pictures. One of his stars, Baird Whitlock (played by George Clooney) has gone missing in the middle of filming a biblical epic of the same name as the film we are watching. The studio wants singing cowboy Hobie Doyle (played by Alden Ehrenreich) to star in their new romantic drama — slight problem though, is he can’t act. The star of the studio’s popular aquatic musicals, DeeAnna Moran (played by Scarlett Johansson) is pregnant and everyone is afraid of the scandal she may cause for the studio by having a baby out of wedlock. And twin gossip columnists, Thora and Thessaly Thacker are snooping around the studio looking for dirt. It’s enough that Mannix is considering quitting to take a cushy, and relatively easy job, in the aerospace industry.
I found the movie to be quite funny and entertaining. It includes old-fashioned dance and musical numbers like you might see in Gene Kelley films. I also really enjoyed the scenes between Hobie, the singing cowboy, and the director of the ‘high society’ drama, Laurence Laurentz (played by Ralph Fiennes). It reminded me totally of “My Fair Lady”. George Clooney is also quite funny as the talented, but totally clueless movie star. I enjoyed this film from beginning to end. But I suspect that older people, who actually used to watch more of the kinds of films that the movie depicted being made might like it even more than I did. Everything from the acting to the writing was excellent. I’m not saying this as a negative, just an observation — I suspect that some of the humor may be a bit subtle for the younger, Judd Apatow crowd. It’s a smarter kind of comedy than you usually encounter today. And I suspect that it will hold up for multiple viewings.
Yet another thumbs up review from me. Go see it. You should especially see it, if you were a fan of the hollywood musicals or sandal-epics of the 1950s. It’s just a lot of fun.