The Coen Brothers are returning to the world of comedy with Hail, Caeser!, which is also a musical of sorts. Judging from the film’s new trailer released last Friday, we are in for a real treat when the film is released early next year.
Here’s a brief description:
Hail, Caeser! is an all-star comedy set during the latter years of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Jonah Hill and Frances McDormand, Hail, Caesar! follows a single day in the life of a studio fixer who is presented with plenty of problems to fix.
But, really, no plot description could possibly do justice to the sheer amount of glee gained from actually watching this madness unfold. Check it out.
Seriously, I’m still crying. Not just from laughter, but from pure happiness, as it’s been far too long since the Coens went into full-on, screwball comedy mode. The last true comedy they released was 2008’s Burn After Reading, and as far as I’m concerned, seven years is far too long to wait for another Coen Comedy. As much as I love the more dramatic fare they’ve released in the past few years (A Serious Man, which could also qualify as a dark comedy; True Grit; Inside Llewyn Davis), I’ve been hoping they’d return to the genre.
Now, I get that non Coen converts are looking at the writing/directing pair’s unique brand of humor from the outside shaking their heads and that this trailer might seem a bit baffling upon first glance, but once you fully comprehend the genius of their hilarity, you’ll never understand how you missed it in the first place. It’s a more subtle brand than some are used to, relying on understated lines of dialogue, deadpan deliveries, and uncomfortable facial expressions. You have to invest in the comedy, but if you put the work in, you will be graciously rewarded.
I recall my first viewing of The Big Lebowski. I laughed maybe once during the entire film. It just didn’t click with me on any level. To me, it was plotless, obnoxious, vulgar, and perplexing with nary a single joke to be found. Over the next couple years, I returned to it again and again, and each time I enjoyed it more and more. Today, it’s not only my favorite Coen Brothers film, it’s my favorite comedy of all time. How did this happen, you ask? Well, therein lies the Coens’ genius. The Big Lebowski works best when you’re already a fan of its characters and sense of humor, but you can’t fully understand or enjoy it until you are. It’s a bit of a Catch-22, but it works wonders. It’s kind of like meeting up with a new group of friends who have a sense of humor that doesn’t click with you. After a couple months of hanging out you start to get used to it and you appreciate them more and more. In retrospect, if you could go back to that first, indecipherable conversation armed with the knowledge you’ve gained, you’d end up fitting right in. The same concept applies to The Big Lebowski, which, even now after countless repeat viewings, still continues to reveal layers of genius.
That is, in essence, the brilliance of the Coens. They want to be your besties, but they’ll make you work to earn that honor. And as someone who has seen the argument from both sides, I can assure you, it is more than worth the effort.