Elvis & Nixon

"Good"

Elvis & Nixon Review


This movie is based on a real meeting between Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon in the White House in December 1970. The only details about this collision of two icons come from a few eyewitness accounts, as well as the photograph they took together. So the screenwriters have some fun with it, weaving in quite a bit of comedy that encourages actors to chomp merrily on the scenery. It's entertaining to watch, but the script misses the chance to add meaning on the situation.

Elvis (Michael Shannon) is the one who initiates this meeting, concerned about the growing protests on the streets of Washington, DC. So he flies to Los Angeles to collect his long-time friend Jerry (Alex Pettyfer) then heads to the capital to meet with his nutty colleague Sonny (Johnny Knoxville) and pitch himself to President Nixon (Kevin Spacey) as an undercover FBI agent who can infiltrate the nation's youth. Since it's obvious that all Elvis wants is a federal ID badge, Nixon brushes the whole idea of a meeting aside until his advisors (Colin Hanks and Evan Peters) convince him that it would be a great PR move. So just before Christmas, the two men finally meet up, and they discover that they have more in common than either expected.

Because of the absurdity of the set-up and the wackiness of the period styles, the movie feels rather a lot like an extended sketch comedy that's largely improvised by an up-for-it cast. These two men are both such big personalities that a meeting like this would be hard to believe if it weren't for the photographic evidence. The conversation between Presley and Nixon is surreal and hilariously random (and largely fictionalised). Shannon and Spacey are having a great time prowling around each other, pouncing with a punchline at every opportunity, so watching them is riveting. Mercifully, they underplay the impersonations, capturing the men with tiny details of movement and vocal inflection rather than relying on lots of make-up. Although Shannon does have that hair and costume.

So it's a bit strange that the film feels so forgettable, never quite making the most of its more intriguing themes about the pressures of notoriety, including a responsibility each man feels about his role in society. There are some striking observations, but the screenplay never digs deeper. Even so, it's enjoyable to watch. The nicest bits include Hanks' hilariously giddy moments as he brings these men together. And the best surprise is the close friendship between Elvis and Jerry, which would no doubt make an even better movie.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for Elvis & Nixon:



Elvis & Nixon

Facts and Figures

Genre: Comedy

Run time: 86 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 19th May 2016

Distributed by: Amazon Studios

Production compaines: Prescience

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Fresh: 73 Rotten: 23

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Liza Johnson

Starring: as Richard Nixon, as Elvis Presley, as Jerry Schilling, as Sonny, as Egil Krogh, as Charlotte, as Dwight Chapin, as H.R. Haldeman, as Margaret, as John Finlator, Joey Sagal as Joe King, Gus Rhodes as Ollie Atkins, as Mary Anne Peterson

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