Elvis and Nixon

2016 historical snippet

Rating: 12/20

Plot: Elvis, who wants to be made some sort of undercover agent, arranges a meeting with Richard Nixon.

I blame the material far more than the performers here. You could argue that Michael Shannon is miscast here because he doesn't quite nail his Elvis impersonation, but I don't think that's the point. More important to me is that he nails the emotions and personality quirks more than whether he nails the kitsch. Kevin Spacey, you can tell, put a lot of work into this performance, balancing the comedy in a character like Nixon with the flaws that really give him depth. It's tough working with icons like this, and both Shannon and Spacey have to be given credit for making them both actual humans rather than caricatures. The latter would have been far too easy.

Unfortunately, this doesn't really go anywhere and is never all that interesting. I liked the idea a lot--taking this brief and completely insignificant moment in history and making it into something. I just didn't think it was effective in making it into anything. The purpose never seemed to be anything other than recreating a quirky situation, and by the time I'd reached the end, I wasn't sure what the point of the whole thing was.

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