The Coen Brothers have gotten really weird recently. I mean, their zany characters and strange antics are no weirder than they've ever been. But it's getting harder and harder for me to say what their movies are about. Not that following the plot is hard, but identifying what they're about had gotten harder. There was a time I could always see what the point was. In fact, there was a time I could reliably say it was about greed making a fool (or a corpse) of someone. And then, starting with A SERIOUS MAN, that was simply no longer the case. It's like they became self-conscious about greed being the major motivation in all their pictures, and decided to make movies about characters who are very explicitly motivated by anything else, just to show us all how weird that is.
So we get our cast of zanies, all circling around Josh Brolin's Eddie Mannix, a "fixer" for Capitol Pictures. When the studio has a problem, he fixes it. Or he tries to, often times they all seem to work themselves out (even his son's issue with little league requires nothing on his part.) George Clooney is their big star Baird Whitlock, who has been kidnapped and held for ransom. Meanwhile DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) is their water-ballet star, and she has a little trouble fitting into her mermaid tail with her baby bump. Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich, who is one of the brightest spots) is their singing cowboy star, but the studio wants to change up his image and put him in a costume drama directed by Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes.) Tilda Swinton is a pair of twin gossip columnists hounding Mannix for a story, Channing Tatum is a singing / dancing star, and Jonah Hill is a...person. Literally, that's the joke, he's a person.
So they have all the wackiness, so what does it add up to? That's what I struggled with, and here's what I've come up with. The Coen Bros have made a movie about how making movies is holy work. Mannix goes to confession way too often, but in his own role he's a kind of a priest. People come to him with problems, he tries to help, but most of the time it all works out on its own. He talks daily to a person who is never seen (the studio head) and ultimately gives up his chance for a more lucrative, easier job because...he's found his calling.
Running Time: 106 minutes
My Total Minutes: 416,797