Release Date: 2016

Genre: Comedy.

Rating: PG-13

In my humble opinion, I give this film a thumbs up.

This movie was written and directed by Joel & Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Fargo). The 22 million USD budget uses many big stars like George Clooney, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Josh Brolin, and is narrated by Michael Gambon. It’s a funny satire and a slapstick mystery movie.

What is the story?

The story unfolds in the 1950s Hollywood.

We follow a studio’s problem-fixer, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), dealing with various issues on behalf of the studio Capitol Pictures, like an unhappy director on one set, a cowboy who is totally and ridiculously inept in his role, a swimmer and a dancer with their own issues.

And then there is a major headache when Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) disappears, still dressed as a Roman for the “Hail, Caesar!” movie in which he is the top star.

The studio is faced with a $100,000 ransom. Meanwhile, Baird had been unconscious and now awakens in a Malibu waterfront villa where he meets a group of communist screenwriters.

It’s funny on many levels. On one, Mannix goes to confessional daily to confess to smoking, lying about it to his wife because he is supposed to have stopped. On another, wondering how the biblical film might be criticized, he gets a Catholic priest, a Protestant, a Jewish rabbi, and an Eastern Orthodox to see if it offends them. It’s the era when Hollywood hid all its secrets, making itself look squeaky clean by using questionable tactics.

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Bottom Line

It’s an uproarious comedy, well worth seeing. A great visual pleasure from the cinematographer, the production and sets, costumes, music and dance. You wouldn’t know it unless you are familiar with Hollywood history, but there are so many references to real life studios, actors, and events, it’s worth researching. “Hail, Caesar!” itself reminds us of Ben-Hur, but a very funny one!

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