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Elvis & Nixon Blu-ray Review

Elvis & Nixon (2016) movie poster Elvis & Nixon

Theatrical Release: April 22, 2016 / Running Time: 86 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Liza Johnson / Writers: Joey Sagal, Hanala Sagal, Cary Elwes

Cast: Michael Shannon (Elvis Presley), Kevin Spacey (Richard Nixon), Alex Pettyfer (Jerry Schilling), Johnny Knoxville (Sonny West), Colin Hanks (Egril "Bud" Krogh), Evan Peters (Dwight Chapin), Sky Ferreira (Charlotte), Tracy Letts (John Finlator), Tate Donovan (H.R. Haldeman), Ashley Benson (Margaret - Ticket Agent)

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Elvis & Nixon offers the comedic true story behind the most requested image in the National Archives, sharing the circumstances of one of the strangest and most famous meetings and photo opportunities to ever take place at the White House.

Days before Christmas 1970,
Elvis Presley (Michael Shannon) spontaneously decides to go speak to President Richard Nixon (Kevin Spacey). Elvis hops a plane from Memphis, calls in a friend from California, and shows up at the Northwest Gate of the White House with a letter he wishes to hand-deliver. Nixon has little interest in meeting "The King", but seeing the value of such an encounter, his advisors encourage him to reconsider. And he does.

While Elvis and his similarly-fashioned entourage (Alex Pettyfer and Johnny Knoxville) are being briefed on White House protocols and separated from their licensed, concealed firearms, Nixon instructs his right-hand man Bud Krogh (Colin Hanks) to interrupt the meeting in five minutes. But when the two men actually get talking about America's youth, the Beatles, and the Communists, Nixon waves off his out and extends the chat.

With very little resemblance, Michael Shannon plays Elvis Presley in "Elvis & Nixon."

Elvis' primary goal is to obtain a badge and be made a "federal agent-at-large" to do undercover narcotics work. It's a crazy request from a wealthy icon who swears by numerology and can't help but show the president some karate.

Elvis & Nixon is light and thin, the kind of film you rarely see made about historical figures. The same story was previously told in a Showtime original movie back in 1997 and it kind of feels more conducive to premium cable than the big screen. Nonetheless, this is a fun film, which doles out juicy roles of substance to two actors who have proven their worth again and again.

Shannon, who is not someone who springs to mind to play Elvis, surprisingly makes minimal effort to look and sound like the genuine article, which is odd given how well-known and documented the enduringly popular musician is. By comparison, Spacey seems especially transformative, disappearing a bit amidst padding and the adoption of a voice resembling that of the disgraced president. It is clearly a conscious choice for Shannon not to do an Elvis impression, but it's more distracting to spend much of our time with what feels like Michael Shannon in a wig and flashy outfit.

On his break from playing a modern day President of the United States, Kevin Spacey portrays 37th President Richard Nixon in "Elvis & Nixon."

The screenplay is the first of note for sometime actress Hanala Sagal and the first of any for her co-writers, ex-husband Joey Sagal and actor Cary Elwes. What an unusual trio that is.
Directing is Liza Johnson, who has two coolly-received indie features (Linda Cardellini's Return and Kristen Wiig's Hateship Loveship) to her name.

Running just 86 minutes with credits, Elvis & Nixon seems to end not long after it just gets started. It tries to flesh things out with period tunes, a stop to a predominantly black donut shop, and a subplot involving Elvis' associate wanting to get home to propose to his girlfriend, but you still come away recognizing and quite possibly lamenting a lack of substance.

Becoming by far the widest opening to date of Bleecker Street, who theatrically distributed this Amazon Studios production, Elvis & Nixon grossed just over a million dollars domestically and very little anywhere else. It reached stores this week not from Bleecker Street's usual home video partner Universal but Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, who released it in separate Blu-ray and DVD editions.

Elvis & Nixon Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: July 19, 2016
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Suggested Retail Price: $26.99
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap
Also available on DVD ($25.99 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

While the material may feel slight for the big screen, the presentation is certainly cinematic enough. The 2.40:1 picture is sharp, clean and vibrant throughout. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio doesn't command much notice, but it does a satisfactory job of distributing dialogue and music.

Johnny Knoxville discusses the "Crazy But True" story of "Elvis & Nixon." Elvis & Nixon shake hands on the "Elvis & Nixon." Blu-ray menu.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Elvis & Nixon is accompanied by two extras on Blu-ray.

First up, we get an audio commentary by director Liza Johnson and executive producer Jerry Schilling,
who is portrayed by Alex Pettyfer in the film. As you'd expect, they provide two very different perspectives and that fuels a pretty solid conversation. Schilling shares some of his experiences with Elvis, but he also joins Johnson in reflecting on the film's making with regards to what's onscreen.

On the video side, there is "Crazy But True" (3:29), a short HD featurette that extends trailer clips with some interview remarks, chiefly from Spacey but also a few additional cast members.

"Previews" repeats the same three trailers with which the disc opens, for Creative Control, A Standup Guy, and No Man Beyond This Point.

The menu is a scored still image adapted from the poster art. The Blu-ray supports bookmarks and also resumes playback.

No inserts are found inside the side-snapped keepcase, meaning no Digital HD with UltraViolet is included with your purchase here.

Unsurprisingly, Elvis (Michael Shannon) and Nixon (Kevin Spacey) do eventually meet in "Elvis & Nixon."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Elvis & Nixon is a fairly fun but remarkably lightweight depiction of an interesting encounter between music legend and president. The film is hindered some by Michael Shannon's reluctance to do an Elvis impression, but it's bouncy and diverting nonetheless. Sony's Blu-ray is basic yet fine. This is the very definition of a one-time rental.

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Reviewed July 22, 2016.



Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2016 Amazon Studios, Bleecker Street, Elevated Films, Autumn Productions, Holly Wiersma Productions, Benaroya Pictures
and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.