Schmelvis (review)

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A Jewish impersonator, a rabbi, and a film crew walk into Graceland… If that’s funny to you, have at it. A bunch of Canadian Jews in a Winnebago travel across the South in search of Elvis’s supposed Jewish roots, attempting to rile up the nice people when they discover no deep vein of anti-Semitism just waiting to be scratched by a gang of Seinfeld wannabes. No one cares if the King was maybe one of the Chosen People? Well, then, um, what if New York Jews wanted Elvis reburied in Jewish cemetery in up north?! Even that outrageous provocation doesn’t seem to ruffle too many Southern feathers, and the Canadians’ pointed acknowledgement that they themselves are the dumb rednecks they went looking for is too little, too late to save this tepid comic documentary. From the “wailing wall” in Memphis it’s off to the one in Israel, where maybe the King is working at a kibbutz? (Hint: He isn’t.) Questionable conceits aside — just because rabid fans have turned the musician into a modern saint doesn’t make him “the most Christian of all pop icons” — this lazily self-indulgent film, which has been making the festival rounds since 2002, is barely a lukewarm tribute to Elvis’s enduring legacy, and never achieves the levels of corny celebration it’s meant as. The disc also features commentary from a producer and the rabbi. [buy at Amazon]

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