Hot Take: What it’s like to watch a 105 minute inside joke. A film critics will love and audiences will shrug.
As Saturday Night Live has proven time and again, it’s a challenge to deliver 93 minutes without throwing in a dud of a bit here and there. Hail, Caesar! feels similar to a sketch comedy show, if that sketch comedy show took on 50s Hollywood. The skits of the Coen Brothers’ latest effort are so loosely intertwined (and at times seemingly forced together), it almost seems pointless to try and tell a coherent story amongst the haymakers taken at the golden age of Hollywood.
As any fan of boxing will tell you, the danger of taking too many haymakers comes when you miss. And while the Coen Brothers land some striking blows throughout their Hollywood farce, there are some big swings and misses creating some dull moments that drag on. Plus, the effort taken to glue it all together create scenes that veer in a forced direction away from what is actually working.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with Hail, Caesar! There’s plenty of funny bits and some enjoyable performances. As a movie, however, it doesn’t quite work for a general audience. This will play great for critics and fans of the Coen Brothers and would be a hoot to watch in the middle of the semester of a Film History class but for your average moviegoer, they might wish they skipped Hail, Caesar!
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- The Musical Number
Channing Tatum learned to tap dance for this hilarious shot at the classic Hollywood musical. Come for the singing and dancing, stay for the double entendre and witty farce.
- The Hollywood Fixer
About the only thing that works throughout the film is Josh Brolin’s character, Eddie Mannix. Brolin’s deadpan delivery suits the mood and plays straight man to the silliness happening around him.
- Hail to the Golden Age of Film (And Thank God That’s Over)
When you look back at any period of film, you appreciate it’s accomplishments and also appreciate it’s gone. Looking back, every period of film has it’s success and subsequent excess and at some point, it’s satire. The Western has Blazing Saddles, the classic horror has Young Frankenstein, the modern horror flick has Scary Movie, Blaxploitation has I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, the disaster film has Airplane!, Star Wars has Spaceballs and I’m sure I’m leaving a few out but now the excess of the Golden Age of film has it’s spoof.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- The Crowbar Effect
My favorite scene in the movie is the musical number. However, it really has no place in the movie and the way it is worked into the plot is rather silly and forced. This is one example. There’s plenty more.
- A Marketing Miss
I’m confused by the marketing of the film as this is one aimed at film aficionados with a penchant for the movies of the 40s, 50s and 60s. However, the marketing team didn’t get the joke and aimed for wider appeal. Someone should have pulled them aside and clued them in.
- The Scene With Frances McDormand
Speaking of not getting the joke, I didn’t get this one. Maybe someone can explain the joke to me.