'Elvis' honest, enjoyable
a tendency to dismiss a network miniseries called "Elvis."
Do we really need another four hours retelling that story?
Why are we doing this?
this biopic, however, the advice is to drop the cynicism.
Viewers should have a good time watching CBS' "Elvis" (9 p.m.
Sunday and Wednesday, Channel 12).
movie stays true to the facts, is well acted and features
exquisitely recreated concert footage that will actually make
you feel the primal vibes of rock 'n' roll. It also helps
that Elvis Presley is played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, 27,
who is no mere Elvis imitator. He is instantly believable
from the opening scene as a teenager slicking his hair back
complete with the famous sneer to his inspired concert performances.
Meyers somehow accomplishes the impossible in this film, playing
Elvis without becoming a caricature. The four-hour miniseries
follows the familiar Elvis story, ending in 1968 with Presley's
celebrated TV special comeback. It spares us the bloated drug-addled
'70s. That may be because Presley's family fully cooperated
with the production and that's how they want us to remember
"The King." But the production still remains honest.
alludes to the start of his drug addiction while he was in
the Army (troops were routinely given amphetamines to keep
them going for all-night maneuvers) and it doesn't dodge Elvis'
promiscuity. It shows how he found the love of his life, Priscilla,
while still fooling around with plenty of women, including
important, the docudrama stays true to its music roots. There's
a wonderful scene in which Elvis crashes a Southern juke joint
to see Wynonie Harris (who became famous recording at Cincinnati's
King Records), suggesting that Presley learned his hip shaking
from the original soul shaker.
miniseries successfully captures Presley's raw sexuality and
establishment backlash to rock. For example, one scene depicts
how officials in a Florida town warned him not to swivel his
hips at a concert or he would be arrested.
Elvis had to do was stand still, sing and wiggle his index
finger at the girls. They still went crazy. Rock was not to
be denied. Randy Quaid is great as Col. Tom Parker, the snake
oil salesman who steered Elvis from music to a career in badly
made, but profitable, movies.
it is a complicated story that the film doesn't dodge. Indeed,
Elvis never wanted to "invent rock."
true love was to be a movie star. His hero was Marlon Brando,
which explains a lot. There are some problems with the miniseries,
like the overly long scenes with Elvis and his "mama'" Gladys
(Camryn Manheim) as she worries about where he's headed, and
Elvis endlessly pines, "It's all right, mama."
doesn't add much to the portrait. The lip-synching also is
bad. Still, this is a well-made movie about the music and
appreciating how, for better and worse, Elvis became the personification
of rock's birth.