Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

January 15, 2013

CALLERI: Movie about FDR delivers the cringe factor

Niagara Gazette — Academy Award buzz surrounded “Hyde Park On Hudson” with special emphasis placed on a performance by Bill Murray as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Some observers were talking up his chances for a best actor Oscar nomination, but most of these folks were in his circle of comic friends. He did not get nominated. His impersonation of President Roosevelt is a little bit off; never getting the voice right. Also, the story told in the movie works against Murray. Sycophants aside, rational people seeing this film should recognize it for what it is, one very strange amalgam of history. Weird, smarmy, and tonally off the rails.

The movie’s main focus is fuzzy, and if you carefully examine what’s going on, it seems to be about this question: Will the King George VI, the stuttering Royal from the film “The King’s Speech,” eat a hot dog at a picnic at Hyde Park, the Roosevelt family’s summer home in New York state? Yes, you read that right, a hot dog.

George, a goofy sort, also known as Bertie, never expected to be king, but his brother Edward jumped ship to marry the woman of his dreams, the American socialite Wallis Simpson. History records that George was easily frightened and a bit of a dolt. That he would lead Great Britain through World War II is ironic, to say the least.

George VI and his wife Elizabeth (the lady we would come to know as the Queen Mum) were the first British Royal couple to ever visit the United States. They arrived in 1939 to ask President Roosevelt for America’s support in resisting Hitler’s military and political moves across Europe.

But anyone watching “Hyde Park On Hudson” should ponder a major plot contrivance. Isn’t the bigger story, as seen in the movie, the fact that Roosevelt was having sexual relations with his cousin, Margaret Stuckley?

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