Viewed – 10 March 2016 Cinema
I have been an admirer of the work of sibling directors Joel & Ethan Coen for many years now and count movies like The Big Lebowski and Fargo amongst some of the best movies I’ve seen. However sometimes these talented guys seem to stumble upon an idea that for one reason or another just doesn’t work – and I’m surprised to say, this is one such movie.
The plot follows a day in the life of a movie studio exec (Josh Brolin), sometime in the early 1950s, where musicals and swords & sandals epics were all the rage. It’s certainly a fascinating setting and one I was hoping would be a great backdrop to an intriguing kidnap storyline, at least that’s the idea the trailer gave me. However following the mysterious abduction of their biggest star, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), Brolin finds himself being forced to come up with a ransom whilst at the same time juggling a myriad of other issues at the studio.
Now you see here lies the problem … there’s a lot of things going on here; Scarlett Johansson appears as a tough-talking pregnant starlet whose lack of a husband puts her image (and that of the studio) in question. Also twin reporters turn up trying to dish the dirt on Baird Whitlock’s past and a dim-witted western star get’s the opportunity to do his first speaking part in a new movie. Oh and there’s some dancing sailors too, headed by Channing Tatum. Yet despite these admittedly colourful characters, along with Clooney they’re written so one dimensional that it was really hard to care about any them. Johansson, considering she’s one of the most bankable actresses around at the moment gets two redundant scenes, and Clooney’s plot is more perplexing and confusing than gripping.
The movie isn’t without it’s moments though. It looks fantastic (thanks to regular collaborator Roger Deakins) and behind the scenes segments of movies being made will always pull me in. The dialogue at times is also pretty comical (a meeting with various representatives of different religious faiths to discuss a biblical epic is a stand out). Yet the comedy isn’t strong enough to hide the fact the movie fails to go anywhere even remotely interesting and no attention to set design, costumes or musical numbers can make up for such a glaring flaw.
Verdict: 2 /5