catch-22 teaser

George Clooney is a bad lieutenant, but hopefully a good director and executive producer of the upcoming Hulu miniseries based off Joseph Heller’s classic satirical novel, Catch-22.

Clooney pulls triple duty as the director and executive producer the series with partner Grant Heslov (Good Night and Good Luck), and as the Lieutenant (later Colonel and eventually General) Scheisskopf, whose ambition and odd fixation on parades present a major obstacle for Christopher Abbott‘s protagonist Captain John Yossarian. And both Clooney and Abbott, as well as stars Kyle Chandler and Hugh Laurie, take center stage in the first Catch-22 teaser released by Hulu.

Catch-22 Teaser

The six-part miniseries is set during World War II and follows Abbott’s US Air Force bombardier Yossarian, who is desperate to flee the war and return to civilian life, but finds that bureaucracy and incompetence are keeping him from doing so. Based on Joseph Heller’s 1961 literary classic of the same name, Catch-22 is both war satire and tragedy, giving Americans a deeply cynical perspective on what Heller saw as the needless loss of lives during a war that until than had been depicted as solely a noble effort.

But while Clooney is in command behind-the-scenes, it remains in question whether he’s in command of the show’s tone, which vacillates between goofy and gut-wrenching over the course of the teaser. Admittedly, Catch-22 is the darkest of comedies, but Heller was able to thread his sharp anti-war commentary through an absurdist narrative while maintaining a melancholic tone befitting the tragedies of war. Based on this (very brief) teaser, Clooney is borrowing heavily from his friends the Coen Brothers, whose talent for finding the humor in human tragedy is totally suitable for a Catch-22 adaptation. But Clooney hasn’t yet proven himself to be quite as deft at nailing that pitch-black tone — his last directorial effort, 2017’s Suburbicon, was a Coen Brothers-lite black comedy that was an atonal disappointment.

But at least Clooney has a stellar cast to support him, with a cast including Laurie as Major de Coverly, delivering a delicately oddball performance in this teaser, and Chandler as the ruthless Colonel Cathcart. The cast is rounded out by Giancarlo Giannini as Marcello, Daniel David Stewart as mess officer Milo Minderbinder, Rafi Gavron as Captain “Aarfy” Aardvark, Austin Stowell as the cheerful Nately, Graham Patrick Martin as bomber pilot Orr, Gerran Howell as the underage Kid Sampson, Jon Rudnitsky as the level-headed pilot McWatt, Kevin J. O’Connor as Cathcart’s right-hand man Korn, Pico Alexander as Clevinger, Tessa Ferrer as Nurse Duckett, Lewis Pullman as Major Major, Josh Bolt as Dunbar, Jay Paulson as the shy Chaplain, and Julie Ann Emery as Marion.

Catch-22 premieres on Hulu on May 17, 2019.

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