Elvis & Nixon is fun goofy little film which faded away earlier this year without much fanfare. It’s a loose with the facts but is a fun retelling of the time Elvis Presley meet the then sitting President of the United States Richard Nixon. It stars Michael Shannon as The King of Rock ‘N’ Roll and Kevin Spacey as Tricky Dicky.
The first 20 to 30 minutes is relatively faithful to what went down when Elvis met Nixon. Elvis at this point was really into collecting police badges across the country and he wanted to become a Federal agent of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (something he knew a bit about) at large. He decided to write letter a to Richard Nixon and he hand delivered the letter to the White House requesting a meeting with Nixon. After much persuasion by his staff Nixon agrees to meet with Elvis mostly because he needs to become more popular when it comes to young voters. Elvis infamously brought Nixon a gift of a gun which had to be vetted due to security concerns.
The film however falls into caricatures of both men which even is a more serious film would be hard to avoid, both Nixon and Elvis are some of the most easily impersonated men of the 20th Century. It is full of the paranoia that both Elvis and Nixon both had ingrained into them at this point in their lives. Elvis also show Nixon a few karate kicks which never happened but is a fun gag and Elvis did this just not with Nixon. Elvis also airs his concern about The Beatles because he “thought the Beatles had been a real force for anti-American spirit”.
Shannon doesn’t look a thing like Elvis but he is obviously having a blast in the role as is Spacey as Nixon who resembles the man only slightly more. They are both men who in a short time after the events that occurred on that strange day in December will burn out in glorious fashion, Elvis with the drugs and Nixon with Watergate. Shannon’s performance as Elvis is probably slightly better due to the fact he gets into his neurosis on his fame and also his guilt about his stillborn twin.
Overall Elvis & Nixon is fluffy but its runs at a breakneck pace of 87 minutes and deserves its place in the world of oft-kilter Elvis films, Bubba Ho-Tep however is still king. Despite some reservations it’s still a total blast but the true story is stranger than this fictionalised one. The film also contains a strong supporting cast which includes Johnny Knoxville, Alex Pettyfer, Tracey Letts and Fargo‘s Colin Hanks.