Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Elvis & Nixon [2016]

MPAA (R)  ChicagoTribune (3 Stars) (2 Stars)  AVClub (C+)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing

U.S. National Archives exhibit "When Nixon met Elvis"

Smithsonian (P. Carlson) article about this famous if odd encounter between Elvis and Nixon at the White House on Dec 21, 1970

ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (M. Zoller Seitz) review
AVClub (J. Hassenger) review

Elvis & Nixon [2016] (directed by Liza Johnson screenplay by Joey and Hanala Sagal and Cary Elwes) is a rather funny comedy of sorts about an encounter between Elvis, the King of Rock and Roll (played in the film by Michael Shannon) and the famously brooding even paranoid President Richard Milhous Nixon (played in the film by Kevin Spacey) immortalized in a picture of the two together that, strangely enough, has become the requested picture from the U.S. National Archives in history.

The film begins with a caption noting that only in February, 1971 did Nixon install his (in)famous audio-recording system that subsequently recorded every single conversation that occurred in the White House's oval office.  So ... with a wink and a smile ... the caption teases, there is _no_ definitive record of this meeting (except for the picture(s) (them)selves ;-). 

No matter, no matter at all ;-)  This is story that just _cries-out_ to be told ;-) and there were witnesses ... both Elvis associates (played by Alex Pettyfer and Johnny Knoxville) and Nixon staffers (played by Colin Hanks and Tate Donovan the latter playing the infamous H.R. Haldeman who ended up spending time in jail for his role in the Watergate affair) who had recollections of this strange encounter with _no lasting impact_ ;-) except to put smiles on the faces of those trying to wrap their heads around it ;-). 

So WHY did this encounter happen at all?  Well the story goes that Elvis, rock star Elvis, rock God Elvis, the King of Rock and Roll, was becoming "increasingly frustrated with the way things were going in the country," and he simply decided that he'd like talk to the President about it and offer his services "to help out in anyway."  That, and then he apparently wanted to be given a title (and a badge) of "Federal Agent at Large."  Apparently, a fair number of local police departments, including that of his native Memphis, TN had given him honorary titles / badges as well.

But, of course, to get an honorary title / badge from the Memphis P.D. is one thing, to get a similar title and badge from the F.B.I. or Bureau of Narcotics is another ... But then, he was ... "The King" ;-)

So Elvis decided to pick-himself-up one day, fly-out (from Memphis - in the Midwest on the Mississippi) first to L.A. (on the West Coast) to pick-up his friend Jerry (played by Alex Pettyfer) and then fly-out (cross-country ...) to D.C. to "talk to the President."  Did he have an appointment?  Of course not ;-).  But who's gonna say no to ELVIS... even if, well, apparently kinda a gun nut ... he wanted to take a GUN ON A COMMERCIAL PLANE (even in the 1970s ;-), and then A GUN OR TWO (or FIVE ...) to the White House ;-)

On the other side, if you were a staffer for Nixon ... How do you get THE PRESIDENT especially THAT PRESIDENT to take a _spur-of-the-moment_ meeting with someone like Elvis? Best line in the film (after his staffers tried to sneak-in a meeting Elvis on the Nixon's schedule on that (random) day: "Who the F... put that on my schedule?" Nixon asks ;-)

But Nixon's staffers think that a meeting "with the King" could actually be good for his image "with the youth" (and even THE SOUTH) so ... they "find a way..." to make it happen.

It's a 1 1/2 hour telling of a joke ... but ... for many the smiles it repeatedly produces _may be_ well worth the ticket price / time ;-)

Elvis has entered the White House ... LOL, LOL indeed ;-)

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