Housing a dialled-down performance from Bill Murray, Hyde Park on Hudson takes place around a summer weekend in 1939 when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth paid a visit to President Franklin D Roosevelt.
The meeting was with a view to solidifying a political alliance between the UK and US as Europe hurtled towards World War II, but that wasn't the only special relationship present if Roger Michell's new film is anything to go by. FDR, seemingly stifled by his domineering wife Eleanor (Olivia Williams), strikes up a romance with his distant cousin Daisy Suckley (Laura Linney).
What unfolds is a comedy of manners and misunderstanding, predominantly within the four walls of Roosevelt's home. The contrast between the stiff upper-lipped Brits (here represented by Samuel West's George and Olivia Colman's Elizabeth) and the open and honest Americans provide screenwriter Richard Nelson with comedy ammunition. However, despite a few titters at the expense of the bumbling royals, this never really lifts itself above being a run-of-the-mill chamber piece.
It's hard not to compare Hyde Park on Hudson to The King's Speech, seeing as both films share two characters and take place at a crucial juncture before the outbreak of war. Yet, this film never manages to deliver moments of big dramatic weight or find a character relationship quite as compelling as King George and Lionel Logue. The fact that Hyde Park's big final act scene involves a decision over whether or not to eat a hot dog probably tells you all you need to know about how exciting things get.
Murray's turn as the President is the undoubted highlight of the film. Though he's not a transformative actor (like, say, Daniel Day-Lewis losing himself beneath Abe Lincoln's top hat and beard), Murray has the twinkling charisma to make his Roosevelt eminently watchable.
A bout of polio may have left FDR wheelchair-bound, but he's still able to charm the impressionable Daisy even when he's spinning tales about his stamp collection. Linney makes a fair stab at her role, too, but too often flits in and out of the movie to make way for parlour games.
Ultimately, it's a shame that this largely impressive cast are left with little of note to do thanks to a weightless script and a snoozy TV movie of the week vibe. The whole endeavour feels like a hastily cobbled together attempt to cash in on the post-Oscars glory of The King's Speech. In the end, it's entirely forgettable.