Movie Review: “Hyde Park on Hudson” – Bait Bait Bait!

Written by Jesse Gelinas January 08, 2013

FDR meets the Royals in "Hyde Park on Hudson"

There’s a difference between a “Capote” and a “Patch Adams”. A difference between a “Lincoln” and a “J. Edgar”. “Hyde Park on Hudson” sadly finds itself in the company of the latter. It’s awards season, and this is when the best and the worst of Hollywood tends to come out of the woodwork looking for recognition. Everyone comes out like gangbusters looking for their little piece of the pie. Roger Michell and Bill Murray came looking for theirs. Unfortunately, it was a swing and a  miss.

“I like this song.”

“Hyde Park on Hudson” deals with the inappropriate relationship between President FDR and his cousin Margaret, and the events surrounding a visit from King George of England to FDR’s home in New York on the eve of World War II, which the President’s eccentricity ensures will be a barrel of laughs. Sound intriguing? No, it doesn’t. Of course not. Because it isn’t. This is everything wrong with biographical films that try to hit all the marks and fail miserably.

“Let’s just sit and listen for a while.”

I’ll get this out of the way now: Murray is a great actor when he wants to be. And I mean great; he can do just about anything. Even his performance in this film feels flat though. The same can be said for all the actors. None of them are particularly bad; I fault the writing and the director for this. Everything is just so bland, and it feels like no one was given anything to work with. The plot just sort of bumbles along while everyone points out how cute and ridiculous Murray’s FDR is.

They do a LOT of driving in "Hyde Park on Hudson"

Nothing about the film is exceptional because it all just feels so standard. Right down to the wordless and oh so inevitable first sexual encounter between the film’s cousins. Sitting there in a parked car, tunes on the radio, holding hands sweetly, hands shifting from one leg to the other, then BAM, Presidential handy. Who didn’t see that coming? RIGHT???

“Actually, no; touch my penis.”

There’s so little to say about the film because there is so little about it worth discussing. It’s not the most horrid film ever made; it’s just… blah. It’s so unexciting, uninteresting, unstimulating. It’s just flat. Everything is flat. Murray only has so many years left to prove that he’s more than just a funnyman from the 80s. But he needs to pick better projects. Hollywood, in general, needs to realize that they need to stop chasing the Oscar. If you truly deserve it, and if you have a piece of work that can truly impress and move us, the awards will just come. Stop forcing it.

My Rating: 5/10

Poster for "Hyde Park on Hudson"

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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