The Coen Brothers have taken a slightly drier and more straight-faced approach to their last two or three movies—Inside Llewyn Davis, True Grit, and A Serious Man—but for their next movie, they seem to be returning to full-on screwball comedy. Hail, Caesar!, which stars just about every star in Hollywood, playing what feels like just about every star from golden-age MGM, has inspired near-feverish speculation and anticipation from film fans for more than a year now, and today we have the first trailer.
The trailer seems sure to inspire lots of comparisons to previous Coen Brothers movies. The fast-talking period comedy brings to mind another Coens screwball, The Hudsucker Proxy, and Clooney seems to be in full-on O Brother, Where Art Thou? mode as a bumbling studio star. To me, the mix of LA noir, a Hollywood hostage plot, and absurdist comedy seems most reminiscent of The Big Lebowski, but of course that’s just, like, my opinion, man.
In addition to evoking fond memories of some of the Coens’ own greats, Hail Caesar is clearly honoring and spoofing plenty of other classics, too—and specifically the grand productions of MGM in the 1950s. The sword-and-sandal movie-in-a-movie that gives Hail, Caesar! its title, for example, seems reminiscent of Ben-Hur. And while people have been comparing Channing Tatum to Gene Kelly for a while now, this seems to be the first movie where he’s doing an actual Gene Kelly impression: His character’s performance as a dancing sailor with a sparkling smile seems straight out of Anchors Aweigh or On the Town. Meanwhile, those overhead shots of Scarlett Johansson, twirling in kaleidoscopic dance numbers, recall a whole other type of MGM musical, this time closer to their work with Busby Berkeley.
Have I mentioned Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, or Coens favorites Josh Brolin and Frances McDormand yet? It’s hard for me to imagine anyone who couldn’t find something to start getting excited about here, and I, for one, can’t wait for Feb. 5.
Update, Oct. 12, 2015: We’ve made an annotated version of the trailer, breaking down the movie’s real-life inspirations.
Correction, Oct. 9, 2015: This post originally misspelled the title of O Brother, Where Art Thou?