Review: Elvis & Nixon

One of the most requested photos from the National Archives is that of Richard Nixon and Elvis Presley in the Oval Office. There is not too much of a recorded account of what happened while he was there, but the scant details provided by those who were present for this bizarre event have now been made into a movie. A fabulous movie.

Amidst a sea of bungling joke-fests that favor shock value over situational comedy, what a refreshing comedy we have in ELVIS & NIXON. The film, directed by Liza Johnson, takes two larger-than-life figures, extracts the humorous dynamics that such characters could foster, and blends the two together with juxtapositionally hilarious results.


Elvis (Michael Shannon) is a quiet, cavalier man who doesn't seem to quite have a grasp on priorities. His closest friends, Jerry (Alex Pettyfer) and Sonny (Johnny Knoxville), know it, and do everything they can to prevent Elvis from knowing it too. This trio seems to have taken some time apart, but now reunites for a jaunt to Washington, DC, where Elvis would like to become a "federal agent at large" ("Is that a real title?" is the question of choice from many people in the Oval Office throughout the film). He strives to arrange a meeting with President Nixon to get a badge from him so that he can help the youth of America.

Nixon (Kevin Spacey), on the other hand, wants nothing to do with Elvis. But Egil "Bud" Kogh (Colin Hanks), White House Deputy for Domestic Affairs, and Dwight Chapin (Evan Peters), Deputy Assistant, convince him that it will be a good idea -- perhaps they think it will be good for the President's image, or perhaps they just want to meet the King.

The entire film is one big shenanigan -- though not without its somber moments -- culminating in a satisfying glimpse of what this moment in history might have been like. Shannon runs the show, though Spacey, Hanks, and Pettyfer give great performances as well. The real beauty of the story is watching Presley and Nixon butt heads, and the constant confusion of the names "Mr. President" and "Mr. Presley" escalates the clash of power that these characters experience in their meeting. Even more enjoyable is watching each and every ridiculous reaction of the supporting characters when they meet Elvis.

Overall, this is a delightful film -- one you should be sure not to miss. ELVIS & NIXON starts May 13 at Midtown Cinema!

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