Elvis and Nixon dramatizes how one of the most popular photographs in American pop culture came to be. The year is 1970 and the United States of America is in turmoil. The nation is divided about the war and its youth is high on drugs! Elvis (Michael Shannon), affected by all he sees on the news, decides that he needs to act. His plan? Meet with the president of the United State to become a Federal Agent-At-Large. Elvis teams up with his old friend Jerry (Alex Pettyfer) and they head to DC and work their way up to the oval office.
Kevin Spacey is the highlight of this movie. Even though his scenes are few, they are by far the most memorable. If you’re already accustomed to seeing Spacey playing a politician in House of Cards you might have suspicions that his portrayal of Nixon might be too similar. But Spacey is extremely talented as the POTUS and will make you nearly forget about Francis Underwood.
I’m still scratching my head as to why this movie was made in the first place. The story is a pretty silly, very clunky at times and mostly uninteresting. It’s entirely possible that my lack of interest could accentuated by a generation gap, but I’m still confident that there’s a lot of bad writing to be found here. Especially when it comes to the characters. Michael Shannon nails Elvis’ mannerisms but for some reason, whether it’s his appearance or cheesy lines, never fully convinces. All supporting characters are nearly forgettable.
The most ridiculous example of this is in how ridiculous the women are. Each fleeting female character is essentially indistinguishable from one another by falling all over themselves in the presence of Elvis, squealing, or struggling to form a complete sentence. With the exception of one unnamed black woman who shoots a sassy comment attacking Elvis’ originality (who is promptly shut down). The first couple of scenarios were funny and fit with the lighter tone of the move. But the humor quickly morphed into annoyance as Elvis left a slew of sighing women in his wake. The only purpose the women in the film serve is to show that Elvis is really handsome and famous.
Elvis and Nixon is a fun and light-hearted film. However, it suffers from a poor script and potentially interesting characters reduced to caricatures. The main scene of Elvis and Nixon meeting is the most interesting and enjoyable part, but it comes at the cost of having to sit through everything that comes before it. This ultimately makes for a confusing and disappointing experience.