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Quick Take: Hail Caesar

Out today is the Coen Brothers' tribute to old Hollywood in Hail, Caesar! How do I even begin to describe this hot mess of a movie? There are moments of sheer brilliance and hilarity that I love with all my heart. The film is all about a day in the life of Josh Brolin's character Eddie, a studio exec trying to keep everyone's pictures afloat and scandal-free. He has to deal with finishing a giant biblical epic (that is essentially Ben-Hur, just with a different name...) whose star has gone missing, a pregnancy from an unwed studio starlet, and a cowboy star who can't make the leap to dramatic actor. Unfortunately, not all storylines are created equal in this picture. Alden Ehrenreich, who was the only reason to see Beautiful Creatures, similarly is fantastic here. His character and his scenes with Ralph Fiennes are hilarious as the miscast actor and frustrated director respectively. Conversely, Scarlett Johansson's storyline feels like an afterthought, while George Clooney's scenes usually tend to be the best time to make your trip to the lobby or bathroom (or if you need a little shut-eye.) Unfortunately, Clooney's storyline is the most central to the plot, and it is by far the worst. I should also mention Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, and Jonah Hill all make appearances as well (of varying importance, all are great...especially Tatum.)

As a tribute to films of this era, Caesar features two amazing musical numbers, and they are undoubtedly the highlight of the film. I only wish there were more of them because it was fun to hearken back to a time when instead of explosions, it was this type of artistry that got people in their seats. It's hard not to wish that the film could have been more focused as to what it wanted to be. It can't decide whether to be an homage or a satire; whether to focus on fame or politics. Instead, it tries to do everything and it only succeeds at half of what it attempts. There are moments that truly are great, only to be dragged down by the most random dialogue-driven scenes that go on and on. For every great moment, there was one that left me scratching my head. It's definitely an unsatisfying film experience to watch a movie that is half great, and half completely out there.

RATING: 5.5/10


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