When future civilizations talk about Joel and Ethan Coen’s contributions to cinema, they will likely cite 1991’s “Barton Fink” as the main send-off of screenwriters siblings into the film world. Despite this, an entirely different project from the Coen brothers, “Hail Caesar!” vibrates closer to the same wavelength as “Tropic Thunder”. Like “Tropic,” this 2016 lark sports a starry ensemble cast, and it’s literally and figuratively brighter than the relatively understated and baffling “Barton Fink”. Also, “Hello, Caesar!” includes several great Hollywood actors playing imaginary movie stars: George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Josh Brolin, Tilda Swinton, Jonah Hill and Frances McDormand all jump into the action. In terms of the story, “Hi, Caesar!” contains an honest Communist conspiracy, a secret pregnancy, and Channing Tatum singing and dancing in an old-fashioned sailor costume.
Some people might argue that while Ben Stiller does his best and has accomplished a lot of things he can be proud of in his career, he’s still not in the same league as the Coens. Due to the superior skills of its creative leaders, “Hail, Caesar!” is a much grander, more sophisticated, and better-executed version of the same basic concept as “Tropic Thunder” – essentially, a fictional high-profile Hollywood production hampered by its star’s limited self-awareness. So if you really like “Tropic Thunder”, it stands to reason that you might like this one even more.