Welcome to “Whose Movie Is It Anyway?” – also known as “Hyde Park on Hudson.” Here, you’ll get to see a multi-million dollar production that shows you what a movie is really like at the stage where it’s still being scribbled out on cocktail napkins! To call it a first draft of something great would be generous – that is, calling it a first draft would be generous. It hasn’t even made it to that stage yet!
Roger Michell’s slapdash film changes protagonists throughout the entire movie like Britney Spears changes outfits at a concert. Go to the bathroom, and you’ll come back and find an entirely different storyline being pursued. One minute, it’s the story of Laura Linney’s Margaret Suckley, a cousin of FDR portrayed here as his mistress (though that’s based on an extremely loose interpretation of her personal letters).
Then, it’s also a biopic of President Roosevelt, played as a perpetually horny tortoise by Bill Murray. Chronicling both the personal and the political aspects of his life, it fails to provide anything mildly interesting to observe. Not to mention, doubts about the accuracy of his affair with Margaret put the entire movie’s validity in question.
Oh, and don’t forget the history lesson that makes up most of the mid-section of “Hyde Park on Hudson.” The King and Queen of England comes to visit FDR’s private Idaho in New York, but sadly, this companion piece to “The King’s Speech” couldn’t land Colin Firth and Helena Bonham Carter to reprise their roles. Nor, for that matter, could it capture the same sense of gravity about an impending world war that Tom Hooper’s film conveyed so well for a film that was otherwise rather lightweight.
In essence, there are three movies in “Hyde Park on Hudson,” and you will feel it drag under the weight of that confusion. Expect to feel like you’ve watched three full-length features … but come out only an hour and a half later from the theater. And don’t expect some kind of great convergence that makes it all worthwhile. The climactic scene all boils down to the consumption of hot dogs. Not kidding. D /