I’m a big fan of Old Hollywood. And evidently, so are Joel & Ethan Coen. It’s a shame that they let their love of great filmmaking get in the way of… well, great filmmaking.
Hail, Caesar! comes so close to being a good movie. Any time that they’re showing a film, or the making of a film, it really excels. They’ve perfectly captured the feel of Old Hollywood, and every genre they touch upon feels exactly like a movie that you’d see in this era. The costume design and production design are pretty incredible. (And the cinematography. #GetDeakinsAnOscar.)
So the Coens put all of their effort into recreating Old Hollywood down to the smallest detail, and then at the last second, they realized that they needed a story to tie everything together. So they just lazily put a story together and hoped it would work. And, it just doesn’t.
Any time the movie isn’t showing us a film or the making of a film, it becomes boring, dull, and above all: pointless. When the movie is over, you just have to ask yourself, “What was the point of all that? If they tried to make direct parallels between filmmaking and real life, then that would have been interesting. But instead, the plot is an excuse. A reason for the Coen Bros. to show you all these movies being made.
Bottom line, if you want a movie that acts as a love letter to Old Hollywood while also telling a good story, I would recommend The Artist. That or just turn on TCM and actually watch some classic movies from this time period. Because chances are that whatever movie happens to be on, it will be more watchable than Hail, Caeser!