Roush Review: Get All Shook Up with the Berserk ‘Agent Elvis’
All hail the King, and his blood-spattered blue suede shoes, in a berserk “adult” animated series unlikely to follow Baz Luhrmann’s reverential Elvis film biopic onto the awards circuit. That’s hardly the intent of Netflix’s 10-episode folly, Agent Elvis.
With Matthew McConaughey lending his velvety drawl to the music legend’s garish reinvention as a shoot-first secret operative, Agent Elvis spoofs the espionage genre with gory split-screen ultraviolence befitting a graphic novel and crude humor typified by his psychotic trigger-happy chimp sidekick, Scatter. It’s Archer with a Beavis and Butt-Head sensibility, which will either endear this to you instantly or send you back to your turntable (or digital equivalent) to remember the good old Viva Las Vegas days.
Lest you think his survivors might not get the feeble joke, his ex Priscilla is a cocreator, voicing a ’60s sex-kitten version of his soulmate, and in one episode tripping with her husband on LSD provided by Timothy Leary, voiced by Chris Elliott. (Come to think of it, a hit of acid might make this show more palatable.) Other real-life parodies include Howard Hughes (Jason Mantzoukas) as a mad scientist, President Richard Nixon (Gary Cole) as a racist who tests Elvis’ patriotism — naturally, there’s a bloody shootout in the White House bowling alley — and a cameo by Paul McCartney (Simon Pegg) during said LSD trip.
“Elvis saves the world. It’s got a nice ring to it,” muses the swaggering superstar with his sculpted hair and razor-sharp sideburns. He’s recruited into The Central Bureau (TCB), a nebulous agency run by the enigmatic Commander (Don Cheadle), who assigns the slinky, snarky, cat-suited agent CeCe Ryder (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia‘s Kaitlin Olson) to supervise and trade barbs with Elvis. (“I’m just a huge fan — of your movies – they’re hilarious — I mean, not the comedies, obviously — there’s a compliment in there somewhere,” she blurts while shadowing him on the set of his biggest turkey, Change of Habit.)
Col. Tom Parker is nowhere to be seen, leaving Elvis with a rather puny entourage of the aforementioned NASA-dropout chimp, a hokey human hanger-on named Bobby Ray (Johnny Knoxville), and no-nonsense surrogate mom Bertie (Niecy Nash). They all could use sharper, funnier material to support their leading man, whose PTSD flashbacks are somehow connected to a sonic weapon that could turn his fans into homicidal maniacs. No such danger here.
Presley’s legion of devotees may well dig the idea of their idol as an off-kilter James Bond, while those with a taste for nostalgia will enjoy (as I did) watching him trade insults with his nemesis: crooner Robert Goulet.
Agent Elvis, Series Premiere, Friday, March 17, Netflix