Elvis and Nixon

Starring: Michael Shannon, Kevin Spacey, Alex Pettyfer, Johnny Knoxville, Colin Hanks, Evan Peters, Tate Donovan, Ashley Benson
Directed By: Liza Johnson

I’m honestly surprised that I just saw a movie about the first time Elvis Presley met Richard Nixon. And according to IMDB, it’s not even the first film about it. Despite the film saying “no one knows what happened in that room”, they’ve made an entire film around it. I was mildly entertained.

Harmless, is what I’d call this. It’s not a great film, or a work of art. It has no reason for me to strongly recommend it to anyone. However, it has no reason for me to NOT recommend it to anyone either, except just to say “well there are better films”, but as far as hammering this film directly, its only true handicap is not being a great film. It’s like the kid in class who isn’t working to get an A, he’s actually working to get a B, because that’s all his parents want from him. Why stress himself over and do more work for an A, if his parents will be equally happy with a B?

Kevin Spacey does an OK job playing Nixon, but if we’re being honest, Anthony Hopkins has done it better, as have other actors. Same for Michael Shannon, who almost seems to be putting his own interpretation on Elvis. He never feels like Elvis, but rather an impersonator, as Elvis has had so many of (and inspires a funny moment in the film). The supporting cast isn’t given anything really astounding to do. They’re all just running around trying to make this moment happen. Knoxville, I suppose, proves that he can function outside of just being obnoxious. Even in this capacity though, I felt he was the weakest of the supporting actors, though I couldn’t help but feel Peters was miscast as well.

So, if you really want to see this, don’t let me stop you. There’s nothing really great about it, nor is there anything terribly wrong with it. It’s not too long. It’s not too short. The performances are OK, but nothing you’ll be writing to the Academy about. It aimed to not offend anyone. It’s like that film that gets super happy because they got a 60% on Rotten Tomatoes, so they’re technically fresh. I’d love to see this film having a promo campaign with critic quotes like “above average!” and “I didn’t hate it!”

It’s on Amazon Prime, as of this publishing, so you can catch it that way if you’re really bored.

FINAL GRADE: B-

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