Written, Produced, Edited, and Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), star of Capitol Pictures upcoming biblical epic Hail, Caesar! A Tale of the Christ is kidnapped by a group of bumbling Hollywood communists calling themselves The Future. Capitol Pictures fixer Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) must not only pay the ransom to get Whitlock back but also keep a lid on other scandals of the studio’s stars.
Whitlock and Mannix are arguably the main cast with everyone else being minor supporting characters. And they are a quirky group of oddballs ranging from film editor CC Calhoun (Frances McDormand) who gets her scarf caught in a machine to cowboy star Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) who is forced by the studio system to become a comedic leading man in a film by European director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes). Laurentz has a weird thing apparently for featuring feet in the movie Hobie is cast in.
Some celebrities of the era even get barely masked parodies. Scarlett Johansson is DeeAnna Moran who is this films version of Esther Williams. Her image is one of Hollywood glamour and purity but she’s a chain-smoking foulmouthed woman who is pregnant with a married director’s child. Something far from her public image. Tilda Swinton stars as twin sisters Thora Thacker and Thessaly Thacker who parody the rivalry between Hedda Hopper and Luella Parsons. Channing Tatum is clearly a Gene Kelly parody. Overall, most of the celebrities that appear in the movie amount to little more than cameos but they’re very entertaining cameos that manage to steal the small portion they are in.
George Clooney plays the dim-witted pretty boy and kidnapping subject Baird Whitlock. He never quite realizes the danger he’s in as a kidnap victim and treats it more as if he’s hanging with friends. Supposedly they were going for a Robert Taylor type. I was thinking the character had more in common with Clark Gable.
Josh Brolin does a great turn here as studio fixer Eddie Mannix who must keep the studio stars in line and cover up their misdeeds so that the public will continue to embrace them and see their movies. He’s got the mannerisms and verbal patter of an old Hollywood detective. His character is a highly fictionalized version of a real-life studio head of the same name. This is not the type of movie I would normally gravitate towards. When I go for a comedy it’s usually a lot more over the top and a lot more lowbrow. Honestly the only reason I bought it was because it was a major release I found at the Dollar Tree. Every other month or so they get in DVDs and Blu-rays and they sell them for-you guessed it-only a dollar. Most are forgettable films but there’s a good chunk that are major releases of varying quality. I figured what did I have to lose if it sucked? I finally broke down and watched it. I was really surprised how much I enjoyed it. I was also surprised I actually laughed at this movie. It’s a quirky plot filled with outlandish characters that works way better than I thought it would.