Hail, Caesar!

I love going to the movies. I love the movie-theatre experience, the snacks, the group viewing, the huge screen. But since I started this dad gig, I haven’t been able to go as often, despite Mark favourably reviewing some movies I really want to see. It would be simplest if I could just strap the little beast to my chest and drag him to the theatre, but a dark room, bright screen, and loud sound aren’t a great combination for a four-month old.

Lucky for me, a bunch of movie theatres actually hold kid-friendly viewings once a week. They keep the lights up a bit, so you can see when your kid casually pukes all over you, and they keep the sound down so the kid doesn’t get freaked out anymore than usual. There’s only a single viewing option, but some weeks you get lucky, and this week it was the Coen Brothers’ Hail, Caesar! Here’s Dash and I waiting in existential terror for the movie to start.

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Well, existential terror for him. Bedhead for me.

Hail, Caesar! is Josh Brolin’s movie. He plays a manager/fixer for Capitol Pictures in the early 1950s. One of his stars, an idiotic but lovable George Clooney, gets kidnapped and ransomed by a shadowy organization called The Future and it’s up to Brolin’s character to get him back.

Or at least that’s how I’d pitch the movie. In actuality, Hail, Caesar! is about what a day in the life of a fixer must be like, the zany demands from all angles within the studio, the meddling of the press, and balancing it all against domestic life. The drama/conflict of the movie is very light, Brolin’s character never seems particularly perturbed by the events within the movie, and it would be easy to miss the climax of the film if you weren’t looking for it. Don’t expect a crescendo as much as the gentle arc of an episode of television.

So it’s not exactly high drama, but it’s a lot of fun. Who the hell isn’t in this movie and having a great time? Brolin, Clooney, Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johannson, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Tilda Swinton again, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Oscar Isaac (maybe? I thought it was him in a fat suit, but I’m probably wrong), Alison Pill, two guys from that Daredevil Netflix show, Newman from Seinfeld, and more. I could say something great about almost every actor and their scenes, and there are a couple of hilarious Coen-Brothers-level jokes that take almost the entire movie to get to the punchline.

So in a movie of standouts, how the hell did a new guy stand out even more? I have no idea. Alden Ehrenreich is not a name or face I recognized, although I’ve apparently seen him once before, in the fantastic Stoker. But here he is earnest, stoic, charming, funny, and interesting. His cowboy-turned-leading-man story is probably my favourite in the whole movie.

All in all, my kid didn’t scream very much, they served mediocre coffee, and I got to sit back and watch a movie at the theatre with my partner. Not a bad day! Hail, Caesar! is lots of fun, and if you’re measuring it on a scene-by-scene basis (rather than as a “film”), it’s pretty great.

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