All the pres­i­dent’s hot dogs

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILMREVIEWS - TARA BRADY

Di­rected by Roger Michell. Star­ring Bill Mur­ray, Laura Lin­ney, Sa­muel West, Olivia Col­man, Elizabeth Marvel, Olivia Wil­liams

12A cert, gen­eral re­lease, 95 min The un­for­tu­nately named Mar­garet Suck­ley was the dis­tant cousin and oc­ca­sional lover of Franklin D Roo­sevelt. She was present when King Ge­orge VI and Queen Elizabeth vis­ited the fam­ily es­tate at Hyde Park, New York in an ef­fort to court Amer­i­can sup­port be­fore the sec­ond World War.

And that’s about it. It’s not the strong­est premise for a movie, though Hyde Park on Hud­son some­how con­trives to make it seem rather less than the sum of its parts.

It’s a shame, too: we did want to like Bill Mur­ray’s twin­kling, canny FDR, but there’s not much the ac­tor can do with a screen­play that’s lazily tacked to­gether by a flat, wit­ter­ing voiceover from Laura Lin­ney’s Suck­ley.

The rest is a Rocky Hor­ror Pic­ture Show wait­ing to hap­pen. Most of the girls will come to screen­ings dressed as Olivia Wil­liams’s im­plau­si­bly comely Eleanor Roo­sevelt. The au­di­ence will leap to their feet with de­light when the car pulls over dur­ing a coun­try­side jaunt and wob­bles to in­di­cate that FDR has made it to third base. The big­gest cheer of the night will be re­served for the fu­ture Queen Mother (Olivia Col­man) as she chan­nels Dame Edith Evans’s Lady Brack­nell: “A. Hot. Dog?”

There’s a sur­pris­ing amount of hot dog-re­lated ban­ter and in­ci­dent through­out this scream­ingly (and un­in­ten­tion­ally) camp his­tor­i­cal drama. For the vis­it­ing roy­als, “The. Hot. Dog.” is an­other bizarre man­i­fes­ta­tion of Amer­i­can cul­ture to con­tend with: “It’s so con­fus­ing,” com­plains the queen, “We have a Hyde Park in Lon­don too.” Ho ho. Will those Bri­tish snobs ever learn to love their coarse Yan­kee coun­ter­parts? You’ll have to wait un­til the hot dog-themed de­noue­ment to find out.

Pretty, buf­fer­ing shots of the English coun­try­side (stand­ing in for up­state New York) do lit­tle to dis­pel the no­tion that Hitler might pop around at any moment to crash the party: “Carry On, Mr Pres­i­dent.”

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