One of the most requested photos sitting in the US National Archives is one of President Richard Nixon and legendary rock star Elvis Presley. How this photo came to be is the subject of this highly amusing film about two people from very different worlds finding common ground under the most unusual of circumstances.
Director by Liza Johnson milks the comedy, and there’s plenty of it in the witty script by Joey Sagal, Hanala Sagal and Cary Elwes. Showing the quirky side of both legendary real-life characters, they manage to build anticipation and plenty of ‘WTF’ moments as Elvis Presley gets it into his head that he should be an undercover spy for Nixon in the entertainment industry, and sets out to get an audience with him.
Michael Shannon is sensational as the Elvis Presley we never saw – obsessive, egotistical, overly generous, and perhaps a string short of a guitar. He gets deep into character, well beyond being just another Elvis impersonator. As President Nixon, Kevin Spacey is the ‘straight man’ of the comedy duo, coming face to face with someone more popular than himself. He plays the role beautifully, and when the duo finally meet, the interaction between the two is often priceless.
At face value, Elvis & Nixon appears to be little more than a weird little film based on an uninteresting, inconsequential event. Once you hit play, however, it quickly grabs attention and amuses from start to finish. There are some laugh-out-loud moments, but it’s mostly a steady chuckle. It’s that consistency that makes Elvis & Nixon a surprise hit that should be added to everyone’s viewing schedule.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 8
Elvis & Nixon will be released on Blu-ray and DVD from 12 October 2016.