For the six people in this world who still think Elvis impersonators are positively hysterical, Mary Willard’s Elvis and Juliet will be a guaranteed yukfest. For the rest of us, this alleged comedy will seem more like an act of torture, or maybe a graveyard, where all that is fun and lovable about pop kitsch has gone to die. Fred Willard (a regular of Christopher Guest’s film satires) plays a Vegas patriarch who wants his Yale-educated son to join the family’s Elvis stage act. Trouble is Junior hates showbiz and wants to become an economist. Worse still, he wants to marry his patrician girlfriend, whose uptight folks demand a proper Connecticut wedding. The meet-the-parents plot feels more synthetic than a white polyester jumpsuit, and the manic ensemble acting only strains the story’s threadbare formula. Without a single musical number to perform, the always amusing Willard relies exclusively on his clueless shtick, which he’s elevated to an art form. But Best in Show goes to David Rasche as the Elvis clan’s drunk but still lucid uncle. Dispensing wisdom with a louche touch, this lounge lizard serves as a free-floating chorus and informal psychiatrist. Rasche is clearly having a blast, savoring every ridiculous line like a smooth martini. He steals the play and tipsily anoints himself the King.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 6, 2006