Hail, Caesar!

Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Year Released: 2016
Rating: 2.0

At Capitol Pictures, the "Head of Physical Production"/"fixer" Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) has to save his studio's 'prestige picture' Hail, Caesar! once he discovers his leading man, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), has been kidnapped by Communist writers - he also has to fend off the meddling press (Tilda Swinton in a dual role), appease his wife (Alison Pill), deal with his less-than-talented (but street-smart) 'star' Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) and entertain a job offer from the Lockheed Corporation. Too limp to really work as a satire of early Hollywood mores and not nearly wacky (or caustic) enough to place it in such sublime company as Fargo or The Big Lebowski, it belongs right around The Hudsucker Proxy and The Ladykillers remake where the Coens - who we can all agree (I hope) are very intelligent fellows - seem to think they're funnier than they are (also see: O Brother, Where Art Thou?), pushing out weak slapstick (Frances McDormand choking on an editing machine, Channing Tatum mounting a Russian submarine) and frivolous references to long-gone celebrities (Scarlett Johansson's based on Esther Williams, Tilda's both Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, etc.). They only seem to 'work' (comically speaking) when their scripts have 'bite'; this is too enamored with the Dream Factory of Early Hollywood to be anything more than simple homage. Enjoy those secret cigarettes, Mannix: it's a busy job.