"The King's Speech II: Roosevelt's Last Stand" would be an awesome title for this film, were it not for the fact that, well, this film isn't quite of the "King's Speech" quality that it wishes it was of, or the fact that this film is clearly portraying the beginning of WWII, seeing as how, as with the prelude to every war, hardly anything is happening. No, folks, this film isn't that bad do-little, but I can see why they portrayed the relationship between FDR and Margaret Suckley relationship as sexual, because although such a portrayal is historically dubious, come on, it's FDR having an affair, and with yet another distant cousin, so don't tell me you're not at least a little bit interested. I'm the last guy to show sympathy for Bill Clinton (You know, Hilary Clinton's husband), but evidently presidential affairs have been going on from generation after generation, so you know you've got to have some serious bad luck if they actually catch you. I don't know, maybe Laura Linney suggested that she play FDR's cute, relatively young little thing on the side because she's still not old enough to Eleanor Roosevelt and just couldn't wait to continue her mission to play a "romantic" link to most every US president. Seriously, she was Abigail Adams in "John Adams", probably did "The Truman Show" because she was expecting to be portraying the wife of Harry Truman, and now she's playing FDR's mistress/friend/distant cousin. I don't know what was up with people and hooking up with their cousins back in the day, but hey, at least Eleanor Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley were just distant from FDR, though not quite as distant as your attention will be when watching this film. No, no, no, people, I'm only kidding, this film is adequately enjoyable, but the fact of the matter is that not even presidential affairs, even by those who can't even walk and are hooking up with distant relatives, can obscure the flaws that leave the final product to stutter about as much as King George VI in its momentum.
I joke about how there's not much intrigue to this pre-US-enters-WWII study on the life of F.D. Roosevelt, but the fact of the matter is that this film's plot is relatively thin, so not a whole lot of flesh-out should be expected out of this film, though perhaps the final product goes a touch too far with its active underdevelopment, glossing along over the exposition behind people we very much know and recognize, but can't entirely grip as characters in this undercooked opus, thanks largely to exposition issues. The film does only so much to thoroughly absorb the depth of its characterization, as sure as it does only so much to absorb atmospheric genuinness that would have helped in doing away with the degree of sappiness that hangs over certain aspects in this film, thus sparking a sort of TV film-grade superficiality that isn't so overwhelming that you feel like you're watching some kind of Lifetime movie-of-the-week bull, but further thins out a story that is light in concept and all-out too light for its own good in execution. At the very least, this film's TV film sensibilities and superficiality give you the opportunity to meditate on just how generic this film is, because although this film is too aimless to be predictable, too many familiar aspects go flaunted as supplements to the blandness that haunts this film all but throughout its course, and most supplemented by, of all things, this film's being a bit too long. At 95 minutes, this film is certainly a brief affair on a general standard, especially when you take into consideration that plotting is, as I said, superficial, expending more material - particularly those of an expository nature - than it should, yet for every moment that is relatively tight and every moment that is too tight for its own good, there is a series of moments that outstay their welcome, going bloated by excess material, and especially by repetition. The film drags its feet, and cannot afford to do that, considering how short it is, treading an overdrawn path whose length goes emphasized by plotting dragging's being accompanied by dryness in atmosphere that isn't so cold that the final product is rendered thoroughly boring, but bland enough to all but render the film paceless, and even provide more than a few occasions that are genuinely kind of dull. Roger Michell's storytelling blandly drags along about as Richard Nelson's script bloats a story concept that is not simply superficial, but all-out inconsequential, thus aimlessness ensues and leaves the final product to meander as underwhelming. Still, as lacking as this film is in both conflict, depth and tightness, a product this flawed can be saved if it delivers on more than enough charm to compensate for considerable shortcomings, and sure enough, while this film isn't too memorable, in the moment, it keeps you going, and not just with its charm.
As with most every other aspect, including the strong ones, there really isn't much to this film's style, so it's not like Lol Crawley's photographic efforts come close to ranking up there with some of the best of 2012, yet there are still reasonably in there presenting the film's visuals with handsome warmness that often catches your eyes, while your ears go caught by Jeremy Sams' score work, which is considerably conventional, often mishandled as an atmospheric supplement, and even with its own more natural shortcomings, but still nicely old-fashioned in its near-elegant simplicity. The film's photographic and musical touches aren't really anything to write home about, yet there are commendable, particularly as compliments to this world that goes further complimented by Simon Bowles' production designs, which are minimalist, and therefore nothing to really write home about either, but still restore the setting comfortably. The film certainly looks good and presents its world quaintly, being not too terribly proficient in its technicality, primarily by design, but still appealing on technical level, so much so that charm goes complimented by the film's nice technical value, though not as much as the script that also does so much damage to the final product. Playright Richard Nelson handles this film script, and all too often makes his share of hiccups, whether it be through superficiality and conventionalism, or through repetitious padding, so it's not like he's not to blame for this film's being more underwhelming than it should be, even with its being so minimalist and inconsequential, and yet, at the same time, Nelson does quite a bit to get this film by, turning in dialogue that is perhaps too dryly old-fashioned, to where there are hardly any actual chuckles throughout this generally rather stuffy comedy ("I suppose an angel walked by... a clumsy one"; oh yeah, hilarious...), but still charms as surely as what characterization there is charms. As a character study, this film boasts little in the way of depth, and I'm not just saying that because this film, even in concept, is paper-thin, so characterization is hardly all that colorful, yet Nelson still gets you associated with these figures with enjoyable humanity that makes most every real-life character in this film, to one degree or another, likable, and finds its color complimented by charismatic portrayals of the reasonably charmingly-crafted characters. As you can imagine, there is nearly nothing in the way of acting material presented to this film's case of fairly well-esteemed talents, yet more everyone in this cast charm, with standouts including Samuel West, who is hardly the gripping force that Colin Firth was in "The King's Speech" (Hey, don't get me wrong, Firth was great, I just thought James Franco topped him in 2010), a film still too relevant to dismiss comparisons, but portrays King George VI's medical flaws believably and humanity with a decent bit of engaging range, all but matched by the human range in Laura Linney's relatively standout performance, while leading man Bill Murray all but makes up for his being miscast by turning in his usual charm, which fits FDR comfortably enough for you to buy into the figure's humanity, even though this film doesn't give Murray the material to flaunt the strength behind the powerful leader in question (Longest-serving US president of all time; he better be good). The film is what it is, and what it is is a minimalist and inconsequential biopic that wanders along dryly and conventionally, and on that level, while this film is far from rewarding, the final product succeeds in sustaining your engagement value adequately, boasting enough charm to keep you reasonably entertained, though not likely to remember the film too much.
To wrap up this affair, exposition issues and a touch of sappiness to atmosphere supplement this film's kind of TV film superficiality, which leaves you to further meditate upon this film's conventionalism, while padding through excess material and repetition, and the often dull atmospheric dryness attached to a meandering story structure, do the most in emphasizing the inconsequential aimlessness of this film that render the final product underwhelming, yet doesn't completely battle back the undeniable strengths, from good cinematography, charming score work and decent production designs, to the script that boasts charming dialogue and characterization, - brought to life by charismatic performances, particularly those by Samuel West, Laura Linney and leading man Bill Murray - and helps considerably in making "Hyde Park on Hudson" a reasonably entertaining opus that charms through and through, regardless of its being a bit too thin for its own good.
2.5/5 - Fair