A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Hyde Park on Hudson is a light period drama focusing on a fateful weekend when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Bill Murray) played host to the king and queen of England. Against a rich backdrop of pre-World War II history, an infatuation develops between the president and his distant cousin, Margaret Stuckley (Laura Linney). The movie offers a decidedly intimate portrayal of the president, following him into his bedroom. One fairly sexual scene takes place in a car; nothing graphic is shown, but movements and gestures imply that a woman is using her hand to pleasure a man. A naked woman is also seen in the background of another scene (fuzzily), and there's also some swearing and plenty of period-accurate smoking and drinking.
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What's the story?
World War II looms, and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Bill Murray) and his wife, Eleanor (Olivia Williams), are set to host the king and queen of England (Samuel West and Olivia Colman) at FDR's family estate, Hyde Park. The trip is meaningful in so many ways: His Majesty would like America's support, but his country is being met with lots of skepticism on this side of the pond. Just as messy is the president's personal life, which is crowded by his enigmatic wife, his domineering mother, and his distant cousin, Daisy (Laura Linney), with whom FDR finds himself spending lots of time alone. Personal and political collide over the pivotal weekend.
Is it any good?
Watching Bill Murray play FDR is like watching jazz; he's loose, relaxed, confident, and not at all hammy, unlike so many other depictions we've seen in previous presidential movies. It makes for an interesting, fascinating performance, primarily because it's unlike anything we've seen before. Linney, too, is reliably impressive, infusing Daisy with a curious and effective mix of naivete, pragmatism, and romanticism.
Nonetheless, HYDE PARK ON HUDSON is oddly short on passion -- confusing, considering that it's unmasking a long and abiding love affair by one of history's most interesting presidents. There's some joy to derive from the private meetings between the king and FDR and the king and queen, but everything plays at a curious remove, depriving Hyde Park on Hudson of the electricity it deserves.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Hyde Park on Hudson portrays Roosevelt. How does it compare to the FDR we usually see in movies and TV shows? Which do you think is a more accurate depiction? Why do filmmakers sometimes take liberties with history?
Is it challenging to view a beloved president in this light? Or does Hyde Park on Hudson do a good job of humanizing him, even if it means knocking him off the proverbial pedestal?
Why is Daisy drawn to FDR, and vice versa? How does the film portray Eleanor Roosevelt and her reaction to Daisy?
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