Movie Reviews

Movie Review: 'Elvis and Nixon'

By Dave ChuaMovies - 18 May 2016 12:00 AM | Updated 3:41 PM

Movie Review: 'Elvis and Nixon'

Our Rating

3/5 Stars

Directed by Liza Johnson, this fictional film about the meeting between two of America's cultural icons is a light and breezy work. It boasts great performances from the two leads and the supporting cast, and fans of Kevin Spacey might feel that he's underused here.  

Spacey who seems to be typecast as a politician type, after his stint on the political hit ‘House of Cards’ is more comical than nasty in this independent film, where he plays US President Richard Nixon complete with very convincing fake nose, and mimicking the former President's tics and speech patterns with convinction. The screenplay helps to make Nixon a likable but stubborn guy with a suspicious mind. 

Elvis Presley, played by Michael Shannon (better known for his tough guy roles) gets the bulk of the screentime. He has the much tougher job of playing the King, and he just doesn't have Presley's presence. Presley was a gun-toting eccentric but with great charisma, unused to hearing people say no to him. Shannon comes across as a tough guy with a wig, sunglasses and shiny clothes.

The film, which is inspired by a famous photo of the two in the Oval Office, kicks off with Presley having the sudden urge to become an undercover agent in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. After flying from Nashville to Los Angeles and grabbing his friend Jerry (Alex Pettyfer), the duo head to Washington. During the flight, Elvis pens a letter and later passes it to the security guards at the White House. 

The letter finds its way to Nixon aide Egil Krogh (Colin Hanks), who manages to persuade Nixon to meet with the rocker. It's a pity that the meeting between the two doesn't really have much fire or tension. Elvis drinks a can of Dr. Pepper and eats some M&Ms, while trying to impart some wisdom to Nixon, who just comes across as an unhip President. Since no one really had no idea what happened, it's surprising that the filmmakers took such a placid approach.  

The movie is also bogged down by a subplot involving Jerry and his fiancee, and the payoff from it just feels rather cliched. In between, there are plenty of scenes of Presley trying to act like a regular guy but constantly getting gawked at. By the third time, it all gets a little tedious.  

That said, ‘Elvis & Nixon’ is ultimately saved by the enthusiasm of its two leads, though Shannon can't quite fill the legendary rock star's shoes. It's a pity that the buildup to the meeting between the titular two just fizzles out like warm Dr. Pepper.

‘Elvis and Nixon’ opens 19 May 2016

Movie Photos

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Elvis And Nixon