Update 12/22/22: Ahead of the movie’s release on Friday, Babylon shared two new trailers for the upcoming film. One is a naughty trailer while the other is a nice one. Check both of them out below and scroll down for more on Babylon.
Original Article 11/29/22: This holiday season brings forth another look back at old Hollywood starring Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt. (Sorry, DiCaprio.) It’s called Babylon, and it’s a big-budget epic set four decades earlier than Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. It’s a big risk for Paramount at a time when non-IP films rarely make a big scratch. (Though the studio should be fine; they’re swimming in Top Gun: Maverick fun bucks.) If you’re a casual moviegoer, you may have seen the trailer, but you still might be wondering what its deal is. What follows is its deal.
What the hell is Babylon about?
Set in the 1920s, it chronicles arguably the wildest time in Hollywood history, when stars and filmmakers enjoyed a wild west of depravity and other Jazz Age bacchanalias. The story follows a Mexican-American (Diego Calva) as he enters the industry and rubs shoulders with big names and fellow aspirants alike.
Who’s in it?
Margot Robbie plays starlet Nellie LaRoy, an amalgam of real stars like Clara Bow, Jeanne Eagels, Joan Crawford, and Alma Rubens. Pitt takes on aging matinee idol Jack Conrad, who has bits of John Gilbert, Clark Gable, and Douglas Fairbanks in his DNA. The characters are all fictitious, with few exceptions. One is Max Minghella’s Irving Thalberg, the “Boy Wonder” head of production at MGM, who nabbed the gig at 26 — and died young, too, at only 37. The cast also includes Jean Smart, Jovan Adepo, Lukas Haas, Katherine Waterston, Flea, Jeff Garlin, Spike Jonze, Chloe Fineman, and Eric Roberts.
How long is it?
Long! It’s 188 minutes. No doubt Paramount let it go so epic because its writer/director is Oscar-winner Damien Chazelle, of Whiplash, La La Land, and First Man.
What are critics saying?
Reviews are still embargoed, but Twitter reactions from critics are mixed. Variety’s Jazz Tangcay called it “Extravagant, decadent and all together delightfully delicious.” Josh Rothkopf of Entertainment Weekly wrote, “Damien Chazelle brings buckets of energy to Babylon, but it’s never not pounding and obvious and, finally, uninsightful.”
Some were more cautious in their semi-praise. Yolanda Machado, also of Entertainment Weekly, deemed it “ A LOT of movie – a purposeful mess.” Eric Kohn of IndieWire wrote, “My eyes were never bored; my brain is still catching up.”
There are plenty of detractors. Ryan Swen of InReview Online called it “Truly monstrous in its thudding insistence on shoving the viewer’s face in the muck and claiming it’s something novel or moving.” Clayton Davis of Variety said it “feels like if someone read Damien Chazelle the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and then he said, ‘Hold my beer!’”
Margot Robbie, meanwhile, has promised it’s even more out-there than her bonkers breakthrough, The Wolf of Wall Street.
Where can I watch the trailer?
The new one dropped Tuesday, Nov. 29, and it’s right here:
Finally, when does Babylon come out?
It’s getting a plum release date of Dec. 23, the Friday before Christmas. It will have to contend with such big holiday releases as Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (Dec. 21), the Whitney Huston biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Dec. 23), and, of course, Avatar: The Way of Water (Dec. 18).