Elvis traded places with an Elvis impersonator and now lives a quiet life in an East Texas nursing home surrounded by decrepit old folks. He worries about life and the meaning of it all and about that growth on his penis which may be cancer. Elvis (Bruce Campbell of Evil Dead Fame) meets up with JFK (Ossie Davis). Kennedy, it seems, had his death faked. He was then dyed black and dumped in this rest home under another name.
Bubba Hotep is the story of these two old men, and their lives in what is, for all intents and purposes, Hell. It is about there attempts to regain some of their youth, vitality and zest for life. It scrapes around the edges of being a film about aging, and about how we abuse and forget our progenitors. Then, just when you think this movie is one thing, the mummy shows up.
Bubba Hotep is an Egyptian mummy that was stolen, then washed into a creek near the nursing home where JFK and The King reside. He has come to suck old people’s souls out through their rectums. He then, apparently, poops soul debris into the visitor’s toilet (where he also scrawls graffiti in hieroglyphs).
The Potus and the King decide that they must put a stop to this dreadful creature. That’s where the comedy/horror.camp aspects really get moving. Along the way we’re given a lot of flashbacks to Elvis’ former life, and some explanation as to why he left that life.
The big question is: are these men who they think they are? The answer: it doesn’t matter. The film works (as much as it does) through the ambiguity of this point.
Despite its flaws, this movie is very entertaining. Mostly this is due to the performances by Campbell and Davis. They both play it straight. Had they gone campy, or over the top, the entire thing would have collapsed upon itself like an overcooked soufflé. Since they play it straight, we tend to believe and like the characters.
Campbell does a great job of being Elvis like, without becoming a parody of Elvis. The make-up helps with this, but really it's his voice and attitude that carry it off.
Davis doesn't play the JFK accent and mannerisms, but instead merely acts presidential. This was the perfect choice.
Now, having stated that I enjoyed the film, I can’t help thinking that it reaches too far. In fact, why is the mummy even there? Really, any adventure could have worked. Given the brilliant set up, any set of events that caused these characters to reawaken and try to live again would have made this film enjoyable (because in the end that is what the movie is about). The mummy may actually detract from the film’s ability to function well.
Oh well. It is what it is, I suppose. I recommend this movie, but would have liked to have seen what else it could have become.