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Return of the King.

Well, I really wish I could report that Bubba Ho-Tep, in which Elvis Presley [Bruce Campbell (!)] and JFK [Ossie Davis (?!)] team up to save their East Texas retirement home from an ancient soul-sucking mummy, is as hilarious as the premise. But, sadly, once you get past the high-concept comedy, you’re left with a bunch of low-brow buffoonery and a stalled story that moves slower than even these aging convalescents. For his part, Campbell swings for the fences, and does a surprisingly wistful turn on the King, but unfortunately he has very little to work with here. It seems the writers never got very far past the founding conceit of having these two icons team up, so neither do we.

As a comedy, Bubba Ho-Tep is only intermittently funny. The best two scenes both involve Reservoir Dogs-style slo-mo hero shots – you’ll know ’em when you see ’em. The rest of the jokes are scattershot and many, particularly the ones involving the two undertakers, are just D.O.A. As a horror movie…well, this isn’t scary at all. Ho-tep and his flock of giant scarabs are played for laughs. (So, of course, was all of Evil Dead 2, — Campbell’s finest hour — but I’ll submit that the mother-zombie singing the Mockingbird song at the basement door is genuinely creepy.) Surprisingly, Bubba Ho-Tep probably works best as a meditation on aging. Entirely too much of the narrative is propelled by an Elvis/Campbell voiceover, but his twilight ruminations do occasionally add a touch of poignancy to this story of legends laid low by the ravages of time. Not enough, sadly, to recommend the film, though. Campbell is good, but Bubba Ho-Tep is all set-up and no follow-through.

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