Elvis & Nixon
Starring Michael Shannon, Kevin Spacey, Alex Pettyfer, Colin Hanks, Evan Peters, Johnny Knoxville
Director Liza Johnson’s previous film Hateship Loveship with Kristen Wiig was a mixed bag of quirky comedy and unusual romance. Her latest, Elvis & Nixon is a perfect blend of history and comedy. With all things being considered, Elvis & Nixon is the funniest film of the year. It’s smart and clever as it works within the details known about the famous private meeting between The King and The President. While neither Oscar winning Spacey (American Beauty) or Oscar nominated Shannon (Midnight Special) look like their characters, both fully invest from makeup, wigs, posture and speech to project the iconic personalities on screen. Elvis & Nixon is a small niche film that centers around one peculiar and fascinating meeting.
Before Elvis Presley (Shannon) blew a hole in his television set back at Graceland, he flipped through the channels disturbed by the teenage trend towards drugs, violence and rebellion. In 1970, arguably one of the most famous people on the planet, hopped on a commercial plane for Los Angeles, convincing his former PR manager and friend Jerry Schilling (Pettyfer) to help him get a meeting with President Richard M. Nixon (Spacey). He also wants to be made a federal agent at large, to go undercover. The gruff and conservative president would refuse the Elvis meeting request because it would occur during his nap time. “From a different time”, the presidents’ younger aids Egil Krogh (Hanks) and Dwight Chapin (Peters) describe him. They plead with the administration to approve the meeting from a PR standpoint.
Perfect blend of history and comedy and all things being considered, the funniest film of the year.
Johnson and her screenwriters do an excellent job at taking a singular event and making an entire film out of it. It’s short running time means it’s quick to the point, but is structured in a way that develops these characters, mainly Presley, on his ambitious journey to meet the president. The script continually explores the public’s fascination with The King whether it’s a doughnut shop, the airport or a government office, everyone is in awe of him. It’s only with the most powerful person in the country that the entertainer can’t throw around his iconic status to get what he wants. It’s bad wig central and the production value is kept small and simple so the audience stays focused on the larger than life performances.
Nixon has been portrayed on screen more than any other president: John Cusack, Frank Langella, Anthony Hopkins are just a few who have portrayed the infamous figure. Yet Spacey’s performance doesn’t borrow or disturb any other, it completely stands on its own despite limited screen time and only appearing in the third act. It’s often the comedic elements that make the film so welcoming; Elvis unimpressed by the White House ,that make the film so welcoming everyone is in awe of him.comparing it to Graceland, or the uncomfortable moments of the pop singer showing off his karate moves to the commander in chief. The entire thing is absurd, historic and endlessly entertaining.
Hilariously chronicles one of the most irrational historic meetings of two public figures thanks to two brilliant performances.