By John N. Lupia (Toms River, NJ)
Would that it twas so simple!
Ah! Not just a line in the film repeated thirty-four times, but a moral comment on the Coen Brothers doubt regarding FAITH! The film is the theological sequel to A Serious Man, where faith in Judaism is shown to be an empty vacuum with a hollow ring like a Sadducee’s nightmare gone viral. In this sequel on the theme the Coen Brothers satire on Hollywood of the 1930’s to 1950’s features the central shooting parodies of the making of Ben-Hur, Singing in the Rain, Busby Berkley swim scenes, etc. The sarcastic and irreverent celebrity roast to Hollywood film studio Producer/Director Joseph Edgar “Eddie” Mannix played by Josh Brolin is only one of the films cheap shots at people of faith.
Coen Brother fans are well aware of Joel and Ethan’s gnawing doubt that expresses itself like Norwegian expressionist Edvard Munch’s Der Schrei in the noir elements of their films. Hail Caesar is no exception but ineptly overstates it near the end of the film with Baird Whitlock’s (George Clooney) soliloquy at the foot of the Cross of the crucified Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. In an extraordinarily gauche and maladroit spoofed scene Whitlock recites his lines as an inspired TV Evangelist who forgets the last phrase stumbling over the word FAITH! It doesn’t get any worse than that! But it did! Joel and Ethan parody homoeroticism and debauched behaviors throughout the film groping for straws in a desperate attempt for laughs in over done flat humoresque vignettes.
The satire on Hollywood’s Blacklist featuring sardonic caricatures of Dalton Trumbo, Maurice Rapf, Lester Cole, et alia, are depicted as members of an educational “Communist” society who kidnapped Baird Whitlock for $100,000 ransom that falls into the Pacific much like this film proving it to be a grotesque waste of Studio money having gone down the proverbial drain!
The film is a BOMB or perhaps more accurately described as a DUD that over reaches in its dragging out in a boring protracted fashion ideas that could have been edited out resulting in a better film run in less than half the time. Regardless George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, and Josh Brolin were superb and serve as the only redeeming features to this half-baked Coen faulty and ineffectual film flop failure.BEST QUOTES