George Clooney stars in this giddy screwball comedy set during the last hurrah of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Writer-directors The Coen brothers are clearly having a ball and their affectionate pastiche of the era’s movies and manners is so exuberantly playful that it’s easy for the viewer to join in the fun.
Clooney is a hoot as a dim-witted star whose kidnapping from the set of a kitschy biblical epic (Ben-Hur in all but name) creates headaches for Josh Brolin’s diligent studio fixer and arouses the prurient curiosity of twin gossip columnists Thora and Thessaly Thacker (both played, hilariously, by Tilda Swinton).
The intrigue is engagingly goofy, but the plot is really just an excuse for the Coens to spoof a series of Hollywood genres with gleeful precision.
Their pastiche films are a joy, brazenly silly but pulled off with panache. So, if you’ve ever wanted to see Scarlett Johansson in a mermaid’s tail (for an Esther Williams-style aqua musical) or Channing Tatum in a sailor suit (shore-leave musical), here’s your chance.