ELVIS & NIXON Review — Truth That's Stranger and Funnier Than Fiction
I like my comedies like I like my men — dry and tasty. Seriously, how can you not enjoy a film that has a tagline of: “On December 1, 1971, two of America’s greatest recording artists met for the first time”? The meeting between the beloved and befuddled king of rock-n-roll and the unloved and unctuous President of the United States is so odd that screenwriters Joey Sagal, Hanala Sagal, Cary Elwes didn’t have to add much to spice up the story. Historians tell us that most of what was on screen really happened.
Director Liza Johnson (no relation, unfortunately) made the inspired and unexpected choices of casting Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire, 99 Homes, Revolutionary Road and myriad others) as Elvis, and Kevin Spacey (House of Cards, Margin Call, Horrible Bosses) as Richard Nixon. At first, when you see the latter in the Oval Office, you can’t help but think of a hunched over Frank Underwood sans the Southern accent. But Spacey eventually disappears into the roll, and you become as puzzled as he is over Elvis’s weird behavior.
Of course Shannon is not the first person you’d think of to play Elvis, but he makes it work, perfectly balancing on a tight-lipped tight-rope between pampered, muddled rock star and all American, right wing country boy. When he decides he wants to meet the President, he simply shows up on the White House lawn. The guards are too star-stricken not to admit him, and the President’s aides are too aware of the much needed positive publicity that an Elvis tete-a-tete could deliver. All Elvis wants is a badge from the President, designating him an undercover agent so he can fight Commies and druggies–he’ll even use his own firearms, of which he has an alarming amount. You can’t make this stuff up. But you can make really clever little movies about it.
There’s a much bigger film opening the same day: The Huntsman: Winter’s War, with heavy hitters like Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain and the ever hunkalicious Chris Hemsworth. But the thinkers and the appreciators of subtlety and irony will be best served making their way towards this savvy little window of American history and humor.
1 Hour 26 Minutes
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Elvis & Nixon Review — Movie Trailer
ELVIS & NIXON Review — Truth That’s Stranger and Funnier Than Fiction
by Lisa Johnson Mandell