Elvis & Nixon (2016)
Starring Michael Shannon, Kevin Spacey, Alex Pettyfer, Johnny Knoxville, Colin Hanks, Evan Peters, Sky Ferreira, Tracy Letts, Tate Donovan, and Ashley Benson
Directed by Liza Johnson
***This film is currently streaming via Amazon Prime***
Unbeknown to me, there is apparently some famous picture of Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon shaking hands in the Oval Office. Elvis & Nixon is a cleverly retro-stylized film by Liza Johnson that depicts the late December 1970 day when the King (Michael Shannon) demanded a meeting with the President (Kevin Spacey) in order to detail his concerns with the rising drug and hippie culture in the United States. The stodgy President wants nothing to do with the hip-shaking singer, but he eventually obliges in part due to the urging of his aides (Colin Hanks and Evan Peters) and he ends up discovering that he may have an affinity for the pop star.
The briskly paced flick humorously depicts the obviously quirky "Odd Couple" dichotomy between Presley and Nixon with director Liza Johnson keenly mining the absurdity of the situation for all its worth. Yet, at the same time, Johnson respects the positions of both famous men, never playing them for fools or suckers, mining laughs from the situation as opposed to at their expense. Michael Shannon's Elvis gets the majority of the focus and he does a nice job of creating a well-rounded character as opposed to simply an impression of the famous singer. While Spacey's Nixon is perhaps the opposite -- more of an impression than a fully-realized character -- I found his Nixon spot-on and amusingly engaging.
I will admit that I wasn't particularly expecting much from Elvis & Nixon and perhaps that's why I enjoyed it so much. While the trailers certainly depicted humor, I was expecting this to be some sort of history lesson (albeit an odd one) and it's nothing like that at all. Instead, it's a pleasantly eccentric light-hearted flick that is worthy of a watch.
The RyMickey Rating: B+