The life of American music icon Elvis Presley, from his childhood to becoming a rock and movie star in the 1950s while maintaining a complex relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. -Synopsis
While Aussie director Baz Luhrmann was going over auditions, incl. Austin Butler’s audition for Elvis Presley, Denzel Washington called the director to recommend Butler. Washington and Butler had co-starred in the Broadway play The Iceman Cometh. Washington told Luhrmann (who he’d never met): “You’re in for a surprise when you see the work ethic of this young man.” Butler stated that one of the aspects about Elvis that stood out to him was that he lost his mother at a young age, too. Butler also lost his mother at age 23, just as Elvis had. Butler took tap dancing and swing dancing classes to perfect the dance moves. Though his hair was dyed dark brown, and he wore dark brown or jet black wigs in some scenes, Butler is a natural blonde. Elvis was also a natural blonde. Butler and Elvis are 16th cousins twice removed; Elvis’ father (Vernon) and Austin’s mother (Lori) share a common ancestry- wow! Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Harry Styles also auditioned and screen-tested for the lead. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Rufus Sewell were cast as the parents before the production was shut down (due to COVID-19); 6 mos. later, both dropped out when productions resumed due to scheduling conflicts. This past SUN, Butler (who has an Oscar nom) won Leading Actor across the pond at BAFTA.
[sees an excited girl at Elvis’s first performance]
Col. Parker: [narrates] Now, I don’t know nothing about music. But I could see in that girl’s eyes, he was a taste of forbidden fruit. She could have eaten him alive!
Elvis ended up dethroning Top Gun: Maverick at the box office last Summer. This is the 1st big-screen (theatrical) biographical film about Elvis; it was made for $85M and shot (over a year) entirely in Queensland. Australia. The real “Colonel” Tom Parker was born on June 26, 1909, in The Netherlands as Andreas “Dries” van Kuijk. At age 19, he entered the US illegally. After a few mos, he enlisted in the Army and took the name Tom Parker; he thus forfeited his Dutch citizenship (becoming a stateless person). In reality, he spoke w/ a Southern American accent. At one point in the film, re: money issues, Parker comments that Elvis loved to spend on “hillbillies.” Elvis was generous to a fault (though it isn’t depicted here).
Elvis: If I can’t move, I can’t sing.
Elvis did NOT live up to it’s hype when I saw it recently (on HBOMax). Luhrmann’s direction failed to draw me in, though I’ve liked some of his previous movies. Butler does a fine job in ALL the musical numbers, BUT doesn’t seem to feel the weight of the heavier scenes. I think he has potential- he’s V young still. Parker is basically a caricature (w/ no redeeming qualities) here; IF you’re a big fan of Hanks, then you’ll be greatly disappointed. The opening 30-40 mins come across as messy/chaotic. Scenes somehow felt drawn out and fleeting at the same time. There is little time give to Priscilla, Elvis’ fellow musicians/peers, his friends, and other supporting characters. Some critics (incl. Black Americans) commented that race and civil rights issues were dealt w/ in a simplistic manner. We do see some up-and-coming/young actors: Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog), Dacre Montgomery (Stranger Things), and Kevin Harrison, Jr. (who plays B.B. King). Luhrmann is (oddly) more interested in Parker than Elvis; the iconic pop star remains mostly a mystery. The dialogue is nothing special- perhaps most disappointing of all!
 While of course he is a central character in the Elvis Presley story, I felt telling the story through such an unsympathetic character was unnecessary, and I found Tom Hanks Dutch accent and his prosthetic nose a little irritating at times.
. The film feels almost like a bad fever dream, arbitrarily switching from scene to scene with little to no connection. Too much attention is put in Parker/Hanks, when he’s not narrating he’s the focus of every scene he’s in.
 For the first two hours it felt like I was watching the longest music video of all time. It was all over the place and extremely rushed. And what was up with the soundtrack?
 Firstly Austin Butler was great, he could actually be Elvis as he looked so much like him and clearly worked hard to do Elvis justice, but I didn’t really enjoy the movie, but can’t put my finger on why. The main actors did a good job, but I couldn’t really get an emotional connection with them or the story line until the very end.
-Excerpts from IMDb reviews
5 thoughts on “#Oscars: “Elvis” (2022) starring Austin Butler & Tom Hanks”
So weird — there’s a comment I can see in my email that I can’t see visible on this post. re: BAFTA voters — they gave “All Quiet on the Western Front” so much praise — I just saw it yesterday and I was mystified. It takes a lot of guts to change the ending of the film to pretty much make the opposite point that the author of the book wants to make. So, no accounting for taste?
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Oh, I haven’t seen that yet! It’s on a Netflix so I’m sure lotta different ppl will be interested.
What redeeming qualities of Parker’s did you expect to see? I thought it was a pretty accurate depiction of him (based on what Guralnick says in his biographies), although the man spent so much time lying it’s hard to ferret out the truth. I agree that the film wasn’t spectacular (I don’t love Luhrmann anyway, so I wasn’t surprised by that). I also agree re: the handling of the African American issues. I wasn’t that excited by Butler. I mean, he’s fine, but I am getting really tired of biopics where the major talent the artist has to show is mimickry. I don’t think it’s a very interesting skill.
I don’t know much re: Col. Parker, BUT I felt he was TOO much of a typical movie villain! I didn’t have high expectations of this movie, so I wasn’t TOO disappointed anyway- LOL!
He was all that in real life. There wasn’t an honest bone in his body and everything the film described him doing to Elvis, he did. A real departure for Hanks in role choice (although I am not a huge Hanks fan.)