Bubba Ho-Tep Rated R for language, adult humor, and very brief nudity. Directed by: Don Coscarelli Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ossie Davis Special Note: This film, as far as I know, doesn’t have a major studio distributor, but it has been making the rounds to some larger cities at the “art houses”. So, you may have to actually look around for this one. It just started a run here in the windy city, so if you are near Chicago, you’re in luck. What do you get when you cross Elvis, JFK and a mummy that wears snakeskin boots and a cowboy hat? The answer, of course, is Bubba Ho-Tep. At this point, you probably think I’m crazy. I can’t seriously be telling you someone made this into a movie can I? You’ll be even more certain of my insanity after I tell you that not only did someone make it, but it is also one of the funniest, most original, well put together films I’ve seen in a long, long time. But let me start with a run-down of the story. Elvis isn’t dead. He’s at a rest home in Texas. JFK? Not dead either. By lucky coincidence, he’s at the same rest home. Did I mention that JFK in now an African American? I won’t go into the details of how these 2 ended up at a Texas rest home, as that would spoil some fun moments in the film. It’s all explained by the story. Anyway, there seems to be a high mortality rate at this home and the film opens as Elvis’s current roommate passes away. After a battle with a large and nasty scarab beetle (“a cockroach the size of peanut butter and banana sandwich”), Elvis starts to investigate and saves JFK in the process (although he’s convinced initially that they’ve sent Lyndon Johnson back to finish him off). What ensues is a developing friendship between these unlikely men as they discover a mummy has been stealing the souls from the residents of the rest home (easy pickings) to sustain its own life. After putting the pieces together, they hatch a plan to kill the mummy and restore the rest to their home. Granted, the story isn’t your normal one. However, originality goes a long way in my book in today’s sequel driven movie biz. And it is wonderfully told as experienced from the eyes of “the King”. The back-story of how Elvis and JFK got to this rest home is handled very well and is never forced. It’s left intentionally vague to allow you to draw your own conclusion as to just who these men are: crackpots or the legendary men they claim to be. It also has some very witty writing. The continuing gag about Elvis’s medical condition with his …um…little King….is uproarious. But, and more importantly, there is real heart here. When JFK tells Elvis that neither one of them were able to be there for their kids, you both laugh (think Lisa-Marie and Michael Jackson) and hurt (think JFK Jr. saluting his father’s casket in that famous photo). When the daughter of Elvis’ roommate arrives to go through her fathers belongings, you feel this Elvis’s loneliness and grief as he grapples with his own loss of purpose. Scene after scene comes to mind that should be mentioned here. There are simply too many good ones to mention. What was the last movie you could say that about? The best thing that can be said for this film though comes from the performances. Bruce Campbell IS Elvis. He has the look, the mannerisms, the voice. More than that, the transformation his character undergoes in the film is wonderful and wonderfully performed. You see and hear the desperation and then the excitement as both this new threat and new friendship return meaning to a life that has lost just about everything. Ossie Davis though, to me, steals the show as JFK and that’s saying a lot. He has that quiet authority about him that makes you think he could have been the President – even as he’s deciphering hieroglyphic graffiti scrawled onto the bathroom walls (roughly translated: Cleopatra does the “nasty.”). It’s a quietly magnificent performance in spite of the silly goings-on. Overall, the film is nicely shot. Some nice camera work gives a suitably creepy feel to the rest home hallways at night. But, my one real gripe with the film is here too. There is this “flash” editing thing they did is several spots as Elvis drifts in and out of sleep. Kinda cool the first time, but it’s overused and just got on my nerves after a while. Still, it’s a minor thing really compared to how much good there is. As noted at the top of the review, this film isn’t in wide release, so you may have to look around a bit to find it. MAKE THE EFFORT. I’d heard a lot about this film going in – thankfully most of its true. The performances are great, the script is fun and solid, and Elvis lives again. What else can you ask of a movie? I give Bubba Ho-Tep 4 stars out of 5.