For such a star-studded cast, most of the Coen brothers' latest effort, "Hail, Caesar!", falls flat. Although the movie is centered around the real-life character of Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), a Hollywood "fixer" who manages scandalous happenings, we see too much of Brolin and not enough of the other stars, like Scarlett Johannson and Jonah Hill, who are terribly underutilized.


Highlights of the film include Channing Tatum's tap dance routine, like something out of a Gene Kelly/Donald O'Connor flick --- much better, by the way, than anything he's done as Magic Mike --- and Ralph Fiennes trying to get a cowboy hero with a Southern drawl, Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich), to act out a serious scene in a drama that could be right out of a Bette Davis or Gloria Swanson film.


George Clooney collaborates with the Coens for the fourth time, but his bits as movie star Baird Whitlock playing a Roman soldier are memorable for the wrong reasons --- they're not very funny. In one such scene, Whitlock delivers a dramatic, and actually quite effective, soliloquy at the foot of Jesus' crucifixion, only to forget the final word of his speech.


Frances McDormand has a small role as C. C. Calhoun, a film editor who manages to nearly strangle herself with her own scarf while editing a movie. Even the long-time wife of Joel Coen doesn't get much screen time.


"Hail, Caesar!" is not remotely close to the Coen brothers' mega hits like "Fargo" and "No Country for Old Men". Personally my favorite film of theirs is "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" (2000), which starred Clooney when he was just becoming a major movie star. "Hail, Caesar!" will ultimately go down as one of the Coens' critical darlings, but fall short of gaining any public fervor.


Opinion: Mild Wait for DVD