Bill Murray Soars as FDR

But 'Hyde Park' itself isn't so hot, say critics

By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 7, 2012 12:42 PM CST

(Newser) – Bill Murray is getting generally strong reviews for his portrayal of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Hyde Park on Hudson, although the movie itself—which centers on FDR's relationship with his cousin and eventual mistress—is disappointing critics. The Week checks out some reviews and sums it up: "Murray is by far the best thing about Hyde Park on Hudson, but his performance isn't enough to make this strange, letdown of a biopic worth seeing." Some typical sentiment on Murray:

  • Rex Reed, New York Observer: "Let others slobber over Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln. ... At the center of the action, holding the pieces together with infectious dazzle, a droll Bill Murray simply seizes the center ring and holds one’s attention from beginning to end."
  • Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: "Ugh, please, are you kidding me?" he moans of the movie. But he calls Murray's performance Oscar-worthy, saying it "has all the layers the rest of the movie doesn't have at all."

Of course, not everyone is bowled over:

  • Dana Stevens, Slate: "I wish I could say that Bill Murray’s performance as FDR was so wonderful it transcended the material, but the truth is that Murray’s character never fully emerges from the fog (and neither does his accent, which takes a well-meant but painful stab at recreating FDR’s trumpet-like mid-Atlantic drawl)."
  • Manohla Dargis, New York Times: FDR cousin/lover Daisy Suckley's "dreariness is so persuasive that whenever Eleanor or Missy, another of Franklin’s lovers, charge in, you long to follow them into another film—one in which everyone really does live in interesting times."
  • Meanwhile, David Daley at Salon takes aim at Dargis' descriptions of "presidential pleasuring," asking "How do you describe the president getting a hand job, in the New York Times?" Thusly, as per Dargis: “The violins surge, the flowers bob, and, alas, so does the president.”
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This film image released by Focus Features shows Bill Murray as Franklin D. Roosevelt in a scene from Hyde Park on Hudson.
This film image released by Focus Features shows Bill Murray as Franklin D. Roosevelt in a scene from "Hyde Park on Hudson."   (AP Photo/Focus Features, Nicola Dove)
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The movie's trailer.   (YouTube)

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