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Movie Review: "Hail, Caesar!"

I saw this film in the theater but I kinda wish I'd just waited three months and seen it on Netflix or Redbox...or maybe even on cable T.V. five years from now. Not that it wasn't entertaining, but...not worth $12 and 2 hours of my time.

The Bad:

1.) This film didn't have enough of that Coen Brothers "snappiness," the kind of cracking, sassy, intelligent, tightly scripted dialogue that seems so cracking and snappy it could never happen in real life and that's precisely the point. There was a little bit of it, but not nearly enough. It seemed almost like some producer intervened and said, "Hey guys, tone it down this time."

2.) "Hail, Caesar!" was too sprawling and therefore the plot had no real urgency or consequence. There were a lot of great characters in this film...in fact there were too many. So many that, in two hours, there was no way to build any real specific interest in one character or create any palpable tension. I've never seen a celebrity kidnapping have less tension or consequence, in fact. 

3.) It seemed like what the Coen Brothers wanted to do here was just create a cute satire/comedy about 1950s Hollywood rather than tell a compelling story. 

The Good:

1.) If you have any affinity for movie biz history (like me) then this film was actually a lot of fun, even in spite of the flaccid plot. There are so many "wink-wink [elbow-to-the-ribs]" kind of jokes about old Hollywood that I can't even list half of them here. Everything from the disaffected communist writers' circle, to Clooney as (presumably) Dick Burton going missing from the set of the overblown ancient Roman film, to the pregnant film star having to pretend to adopt her own baby to avoid a PR hassle, to the whole way the long-forgotten "Studio System" was run, with film studios trading and lending stars to each other like they were baseball cards. No one with any kind of interest in Hollywood history could not enjoy this film at least a little bit.

2.) Tilda Swinton playing twin sisters who write competing Hollywood gossip columns. 

3.) The outlandish outfits worn by Tilda Swinton playing twin sisters who write competing Hollywood gossip columns. In fact, the costumes in general were incredible in this movie. Visually, the entire film is a treat.

4.) The hilarious and overtly homo-erotic dance routine "No Dames" led by Channing Tatum, featuring a bunch of guys dressed up as sailors supposedly lamenting the fact that they won't be seeing any women for the next seven months as they head out to sea. You'll never look at an all-male dance routine the same way again.

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