Elvis & Nixon

Rated 2.0

The latest attempt by Amazon Studios to poop in Netflix’s yard, Liza Johnson’s Elvis & Nixon boasts credibility-boosting above-the-line talent in Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey, but it also feels strangely pointless. It concerns the King of Rock’s hazily motivated and unannounced visit to the White House in December 1970, where he met with pre-Watergate, first-term President Richard Nixon, and posed for one of the most baffling and widely reproduced photographs of the 20th century. To its credit, the film doesn’t try to psychoanalyze Elvis, and it doesn’t try to turn this sociocultural footnote into an all-encompassing commentary on the era. To its shame, the film doesn’t really try to do anything at all, except maybe score some cheap laughs and roll its eyes at Elvis’ wardrobe. Much of Elvis & Nixon plays like an extended rehearsal for a Saturday Night Live skit that never made it to air. D.B.