Schmelvis: The Man, The Legend, The Jew?

The concept of this documentary immediately interested me and had a great potential for oodles of humour. Instead it is far more of a hit or miss affair that is probably 10 minutes or more too long and becomes way to self-indulgent in parts.

The basic premise is an article in the Wall Street Journal, which I remember reading, that details the fact that Elvis’ great grandmother was a Jewess. Now if your mother is a Jew you are a Jew so a rabble including a Rabbi, a Hassidic Elvis impersonator who can’t sing very wel,l and a film crew head off to Memphis on a quest to prove it.

This being Canadian there are parts of it that are just a bit too po-faced for its own good. In the video the director wishes they had brought another Elvis impersonator and I don’t blame him. Like many road movies their road trip is far more amusing than when they actually get to Memphis. Vox pops about Elvis’ Jewish roots are amusing however; as is the interview with Elvis’ Jewish neighbour from before his famous days. But the trip to Israel seems pointless and unnecessary in the film.

The final confrontation with a redneck organiser of the Elvis impersonator-fest in Memphis who rails against any use of “politics or religion” is rather predictable and trite. Schmelvis doesn’t take part. The fact the Hassidic Elvis does not seem to know any of the songs does not help either. In the end the final scene of him being blown out vocally by a bunch of black women in a church singing “Amazing Grace” sums the whole thing up.

It had so much potential, but in the end it fell a bit short. What a great shame.

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