"I knew that we were now not just fifth cousins, but very good friends," says Daisy (Laura Linney), distant relative of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Bill Murray), 15 minutes into this gentle period film, after taking a leisurely drive with her most important next of kin through the idyllic countryside and, pausing for a moment in a peaceful meadow, coming to a wordless understanding of OH GOD, SHE'S GIVING HIM A HANDJOB! THE CAR IS BOUNCING AND SQUEAKING! HOW DOES A CAR BOUNCE AND SQUEAK THAT MUCH FROM A HANDJOB? WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? I TOOK MY GRANDMA TO SEE THIS! SOMEBODY MAKE THIS MOVIE QUIT IT AND START OVER AND BE NICE!
I don't think I'm especially delicate. My sensibilities are not easily offended. But there's something... what's the old-fashioned word for it... no, not "grody," although that fits... yes, "unseemly," that's it... something unseemly about this film, one that rips the lid off FDR's long list of pieces on the side, one that focuses squarely on the woman who must have been the least interesting of the bunch. Oh, she wore the most matronly of outfits, you say? She seemed so polite and asexual? She seemed the least likely to enthusiastically jump into an extramarital affair with a family member? Good, let's make the movie about her. Until we decide to make the movie about something else. [Note to reader: more insane spoilers follow, but you're in, right? Consider them Bizarro World selling points if you must]
That's right. After Daisy shocks your grandma with that opening bit of Depression-era, R. Kelly sex-jam audacity, the movie decides it really wants to be a sequel to The King's Speech. Daisy still narrates, though, even as she sits on the sidelines looking blankly into space while the film's most watchable players, Brit actors Samuel West and Olivia Colman as the king and queen, forced to visit the U.S. to ask for support as they head into war with Germany, create a storyline worth paying some attention.
Then it lurches back into tacky, confusional weirdness, everyone screams at each other about affairs and proper behavior and, finally, the last unflinchingly strange act shifts gears and chooses to concern itself with whether or not the king is going to eat a hot dog at the president's picnic. Seriously. A hot dog. Lots of fevered discussion takes place about whether or not eating a hot dog is appropriate, the meaning of eating said hot dog, the political and personal implications of an English king chowing down on a bun-nestled Oscar Mayer frankfurter.
And they keep talking about it. Expressions get worried, then worried-er, the Daisy narration more seemingly useless, to the point where you wonder why she's even in the movie anymore. And then it hits you. As mustard is slathered onto the impending sausage and the king bites the presidential wiener and Daisy declares that the U.S. and England are now, you guessed it, "very good friends," you come to the soul-shaking realization that this is a movie about FDR's penis. All of it. The whole film. The whole penis. Somewhere, Bill Clinton is already privately annoyed that this movie stole his thunder.