The Village Voice
A kick for those who've distractedly thumbed through Hollywood Babylon, Joel and Ethan Coen's bustling comedy Hail, Caesar! looks back to the waning days of moviedom's golden age: specifically, to 1951, when big-studio fixers were still tidying up the messes left by the talent (scrubbing now done by publicists and lawyers). As we'd expect, the Coens' remembrance of this bygone era is mordant, though not as enjoyably salacious as Kenneth Anger's legendary collection of Tinseltown scandal. But the brothers' latest also has a certain buoyancy — a quality rarely associated with their films, especially the bleak Barton Fink (1991), their first treatment of studio-system Hollywood and its pathologies. The fizziness, though, proves fleeting, and Hail, Caesar! too often goes flat.