Actors impress in ‘Hail, Caesar!’

Sean Kelly

Julius Caesar, played by George Clooney, charges into battle.
[/media-credit] Julius Caesar, played by George Clooney, charges into battle.

“Hail, Caesar!” is directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, whose work includes classics such as “Fargo”, which became a TV series that you NEED to watch right now, “The Big Lebowski”, “No Country For Old Men”, and “Inside Llewyn Davis”. When you see the Coen brothers’ names attached to a film, you can expect a quirky plot, dark humor and an all-star cast of memorable characters.

And that’s exactly what you get with “Hail, Caesar!”, Albeit a light version of it. The film covers a day in the life of Eddie Mannix, played by Josh Brolin, a “fixer” at a 1950s Hollywood studio that keeps the scandalous secrets of its movie stars out of the press. This particular day involves him investigating the kidnapping of Baird Whitlock, played by George Clooney, the star of “Hail, Caesar!,” one of the many films within this film.

While that may be the overall plot, it’s the mini-films within the film that make up the most memorable scenes. With a biblical epic, a western and a water ballet sequence, these films make you feel like you’re in the 1950s. However, it’s the musical starring Channing Tatum’s character that is the best of the bunch with a number that’s impressive no matter what era it’s from.

The cast in this film includes big names like Brolin, Clooney, Tatum, Scarlett Johansson and Jonah Hill, yet surprisingly the best performance comes from Alden Ehrenreich as Hobie Doyle, a dimwitted actor making the difficult transition from westerns to drama. Ehenreich is hilarious as his impatient director, Ralph Fiennes, coaches him to say the line “Would that it ‘twere so simple” without his thick southern drawl. Watching his character awkwardly falter towards his mark, completely butcher his lines and try to comprehend the definition of rueful not only makes this the best scene in the film, it is reminiscent of old comedy routines like “Who’s on First?” The aloofness Ehenreich brings to this character, not to mention his skills with a lasso, will add Hobie Doyle into the Coen Brother’s long list of oddball characters.

With the mini-films and Ehrenreich’s performance, the kidnapping plot becomes more of an afterthought, a seam that stitches these segments in a sort of disjointed fashion. Though it is funny to watch how nonchalant Clooney’s character is when he is held hostage. All in all, Hail, Caesar! is packed with enough entertaining moments to make up for the fact that the film does not really fit together as a whole. It may not be the best of the Coen brothers’ work, but it’s a solid addition to a brilliant filmography.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, “Hail, Caesar!” sits at second place in the box office this weekend,
taking in $11.4 million. It faces strong competition from Kung Fu Panda 3 in first and the upcoming releases of Deadpool and Zoolander 2 are sure to take its current position.