Thursday, May 12, 2005

Elvis: A Review

I'll start by stating that I hate made for TV movies. There have literally been dozens of made for TV movies, miniseries, and even series about the king of Rock 'n Roll. So I was immediately biased against the CBS production of "Elvis." However, it was a blockbuster TV extravaganza about The King, so I had to watch.

Johnathan Rhys Meyers looks a lot like Elvis. He captures his essence quite well. However, his lip synching is horrid. The movie overcomes this by focusing a lot on his dancing, with wider angle shots. Cameron Manheim is absolutely perfect as his mama Gladys. Granted, all we know about Elvis' mama we know from pictures, but she is a dead ringer and her interaction with Meyers captures something that other Elvis movies miss. Likewise, Randy Quaid is perfect as Colonel Tom Parker. Their relationship seems plausible, and in many ways tragic. Robert Patrick is also good as Vernon Presley.

The story follows Elvis from just before becoming discovered until his 1968 comeback special. While the story is familiar to Elvis historian, the dialogue is uncharacteristic of a mini-series. That is, it seems real. That is, until the romantic scenes. Rose McGowan does a poor job playing Ann-Margaret and Antonia Bernath is unremarkable in the difficult role as Priscilla. An aside, for a hottie like Ann-Margaret you're going to need to do a whole lot better than Rose McGowan.

The real star of this movie is the music. Not just the music of Elvis. Particularly at the beginning, the film showcases high school aged Elvis listening to his influences: the black blues musicians and white hillbilly singers. Then it shows how E took the same songs and made them his own. "That's Alright Mama" and "Blue Moon of Kentucky" are perfect examples, with the original artists heard in their entirety, followed shortly by Elvis. It's the kind of thing the judges on American Idol claim is happening each week, but really isn't.

What makes this film great (at least the first half) is that it shows how a poor kid walked into Sun Studios with some songs in his head and created Rock 'n Roll. It may not be "Elvis and the Beauty Queen," but it's probably the best made for TV Elvis movie ever. I'd give it a solid B grade.


Post a Comment

<< Home