Even though I can’t say that I’m familiar with the fame of this photo between Elvis and Nixon, this is still a movie I never thought in a million years that I would want to see as much as I did. I mean, Michael Shannon as Elvis? Genius! Kevin Spacey as Nixon? Double genius! Put them in the same movie? Um… shut up and take my money! I’m on board with this one! It looked like it would be a goofy kind of film that wasn’t going to take itself seriously and just be incredibly enjoyable. Honestly, that’s just fine in my book. By the end of it all, I was really excited for this. This is my honest opinion of ELVIS & NIXON.
Elvis Presley (Michael Shannon) is on top of the world with his fame, loved by all. All except maybe Richard Nixon (Kevin Spacey), the President of the United States. Turns out, Elvis wants to meet the President in the Oval Office. Well, Nixon doesn’t want to. But after some convincing arguments from his assistants Egil Krogh (Colin Hanks) and Dwight Chapin (Evan Peters), Nixon agrees to meet with Elvis, who wants the President to make him a federal agent.
Oh my god, this movie was so much fun.
Is Shannon amazing? Uh, has he been anything else? His performance as the King is so enjoyable, I think even Shannon knows because he just lets loose. Okay, maybe as enjoyable as he is, he is laying on Elvis’ accent like an impersonator. I won’t pretend to have done anything more than a dollar-tree’s worth of research into Elvis’ voice, but it’s a lot more subtle than Shannon was making it out to be. But ultimately, as his voice may be forced, it’s something you kind of have to look for. And like I said, Shannon is too charming and hilarious to be distracting in a bad way.
I think one of the best aspects of Elvis is… the reaction to him when he walks somewhere. Every head in the room perks up, eyes widen, and never falters. I think one of my favorite scenes is when Elvis walks into the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. He announced via phone call that he’d be making an appearance. A phone call taken by a female receptionist. Immediately as she hangs up the phone, she squees and gets all the ladies in the room excited too. When Elvis enters the building, the women freakin’ glow with awe. Elvis conducts his business with their boss and leaves disappointed. The women take note of this and when he leaves, the receptionist turns to her boss and in an angry tone asks him, “What did you say to him?!” to which he responds by holding his hands up. That scene with that kind of humorous reaction to Elvis is only one of many, but it’s such a fun thing to see.
Let’s not forget the living legend himself, Spacey, as Nixon. Technically, his performance might be better than Shannon’s, as his accent feels much more natural. But more than that, the true brilliance of both of these characters is when they finally get together. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, it is the title of the film after all, but it’s so much better than I could have anticipated. Sure, half of the jokes were shown in the trailer, all mostly from Elvis, but the other half is simply Nixon’s reaction to Elvis and his unorthodox demeanor with the President. While someone may argue that Nixon’s fondness toward Elvis would seem a little too quick considering he spends most of the beginning of their meeting annoying him, but as their time together progresses, you do see a strange little connection that you can’t help but gravitate toward.
But lets not forget another character that stood out for me: Jerry, played by Alex Pettyfer. While I haven’t seen much of Pettyfer’s work (though familiar with the titles and the lackluster reception for most of his movies), I have to say that this is most likely a career best. Essentially, Jerry is Elvis’ long time best friend since before Elvis was “Elvis.” He wants Jerry along for emotional support and often implies that because he doesn’t see him as a celebrity, seeing the real him means a lot to him on a personal level. Most of Jerry’s conflict revolves around him leaving town with Elvis. However, his girlfriend reminds him that her parents are visiting soon and Jerry wants to take advantage of that time to propose to her. Unfortunately, Elvis’ neediness constantly guilts him into staying to help set up a meeting with the President and he isn’t sure if he’ll be able to get back home in time.
Hanks is also his usual funny and charming self who gets flustered when Elvis blatantly refuses to listen to protocols when interacting with the President, drinking his Dr. Pepper, eating his M&Ms, his reactions are always a hoot. Not much to say about his character as that is his primary function in the movie: react hilariously to hilarious things. Not that that’s a bad thing, it is a comedy after all.
Overall, I absolutely adored this movie. It may not be perfect, but its imperfections are so small by comparison to the sheer enjoyment of the rest of the film didn’t deter it from being a great film for me. The performances are fantastic and if you’re a fan of Spacey being a politician, or a fan of either Shannon or Elvis, which is every last one of you, I can’t recommend this movie enough. Everyone should see this. A real must-see. I may have only seen this film once, but I fully intend to see it again.
My honest rating: 5/5
- A HOLOGRAM FOR A KING
- SING STREET
- THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR
- GREEN ROOM