The Coens revel in both the glamour and the squalor of post-war Hollywood with a film that more than makes up in wit and flash what it might lack in substance.
It doesn’t seem new for them, yet as super polished, mannered, slightly surreal comedies go, the movie feels as rare as a unicorn.
Beneath the (sometimes hysterically funny) gags, is a surprisingly thoughtful examination of the same issues that bubble through Joel and Ethan Coen’s more serious pictures; the folly of man, the nature of faith, and the terror of trying to figure out what path through life is the correct one to take.
This gorgeously crafted romp through the backlots and Malibu enclaves of Hollywood’s Golden Age tosses off plenty of eccentric comedy and musical razzle-dazzle before taking on richer, more ruminative dimensions, ultimately landing on the funny-sad question of whether life is but a dream factory.
Joel and Ethan Coen's idiosyncrasies elevate the film above the level of a mere creative exercise.
New York Daily News
Star-studded and stylish, this addition to the brothers’ acclaimed canon is a looker with laughs and, alas, dull stretches. It’s fun and entertaining — no more, no less, no exclamation point.
Unquestionably uneven and only occasionally inspired, Hail, Caesar! is nonetheless engrossing and funny thanks to its off-kilter energy and a lead performance from Coens regular Josh Brolin that’s a model of quietly controlled chaos.
The brothers' latest also has a certain buoyancy...The fizziness, though, proves fleeting, and Hail, Caesar! too often goes flat.
When the Coen Brothers miss, they miss with gusto. Images of Babe Ruth, swinging and collapsing in a heap from the effort come to mind.
The Hollywood Reporter
There is amusement to be had, engaging actors to admire and beautiful craftsmanship to behold, but the entertainment quotient is below their usual standard when it comes to the films they target for a mass audience, of which this is one.