While I was initially disappointed that Elvis & Nixon wasn’t some sort of Alan Moore-scripted super hero movie set in a bizarre alternate universe, I do think the film looks just peculiar enough to possibly be good (or at least interesting). I’m in.
Elvis & Nixon is an odd film for two specific reasons. The first is that it’s based on what is possibly one of the weirder true stories ever, which is that Elvis in the early 70s decided that the youth of America were in trouble (due to drugs, hippie communes, the Beatles and such), and he wanted to help. So, he set his sights on acquiring a Federal Agent-At-Large badge so that he could use it to infiltrate and then bust groups involved in spreading drug culture (and also communism, to a lesser degree) throughout the USA. Again, it’s a strange story, but also one that’s entertaining and deserving of its own film.
Where the movie’s other oddity lies is in its casting, and I don’t mean that in a positive way. As much as I love Michael Shannon, he doesn’t at all look like Elvis Presley. I only could see Michael Shannon doing an Elvis Presley impersonation. Is it bad? No, but it was distracting. The same can be said for Kevin Spacey as Richard Nixon. All I could see was Kevin Spacey (who already convincingly plays a President in House of Cards) doing his best to mimic the infamous President. I understand that a movie like Elvis & Nixon probably doesn’t get made without names like Shannon and Spacey attached as the leads, but they’re such a distraction that it nearly neuters the story that the film is trying to tell. Even great actors still need appropriate roles, you know?
If you see Elvis & Nixon, make sure to matinee it.
One Last Thought:
You know, I don’t think it would be all that bad if someone actually moved forward with an Elvis & Nixon superhero team-up movie. Elvis, I imagine, would be kind of like Tony Stark – crafty, suave and funny, and Nixon would be, well … he’d probably just be Nixon. Either way though, I’d watch the hell out of that film.