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Elvis & Nixon 

Wednesday, Apr 20 2016
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It's possible to make a funny, entertaining movie based on the well-documented true story of Elvis Presley (Michael Shannon) meeting Richard Nixon (Kevin Spacey) in December of 1971, and Allan Arkush's 1997 Elvis Meets Nixon was that movie. Unfortunately, Liza Johnson's Elvis & Nixon beefs it by focusing on the wrong people. The first warning comes when after two credit screens chock-full-o' executive producers, noted Elvis compatriot Jerry Schilling gets a solo executive producer credit. The film drills into your head that Schilling (Alex Pettyfer) was Elvis' one true friend by having The King say it aloud, and we're to further understand that Schilling was a saint among men because even while his BFF was meeting POTUS, Schilling just wanted to return home to Los Angles to ask his girlfriend's parents for her hand in marriage. (This contradicts Peter Guralnick's meticulously researched Elvis biography Careless Love, but Guralnick isn't a character in or producer of the film.) Johnson even cuts away from the meeting to spend more time on that pointless, self-indulgent subplot. Elvis & Nixon does have its moments, mostly in Shannon's surprisingly understated performance as Elvis and a hilarious turn by Colin Hanks as harried Nixon aide Egil Krogh, but much like its underserved title characters, the picture never fulfills its potential.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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