Film review: Weak mix of history, silliness in ‘Hyde Park on Hudson’

By Sean P. Means

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: January 5, 2013 12:46PM
Updated: January 29, 2013 01:53PM
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| Focus Features Bill Murray portrays Franklin Delano Roosevelt in "Hyde Park on Hudson."

Great figures are turned into weak caricatures in “Hyde Park on Hudson,” a limp mix of romantic drama and historical silliness.

It’s 1939, and the recently crowned King George VI (Samuel West) and Queen Elizabeth (Olivia Colman) visit the United States — specifically the New York summer estate of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Bill Murray). While Eleanor (Olivia Williams) arranges goofy activities and the royals worry about the prospect of eating hot dogs, FDR engages in a tentative love affair with Margaret Stuckley, aka Daisy (Laura Linney), a distant cousin who in one eye-rolling scene meekly obliges FDR’s libido on a car ride.

Director Roger Michell (“Notting Hill,” “Morning Glory”) aims for carefree comedy with this mix of bedroom antics and British-American culture clash, but Richard Nelson’s script is too shrill in its humor and too self-important in its portrait of FDR’s foibles. It says something of this movie’s misfiring tone that it makes Linney, easily one of our liveliest actresses, come off as a somber drip.

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‘Hyde Park on Hudson’

Opens today at area theaters; rated R for brief sexuality; 95 minutes.