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WW II-era FDR played by Bill Murray in 'Hyde Park on Hudson'

Peter RainerThe Christian Science Monitor

Bill Murray has long demonstrated that he is capable of being a first-rate actor, so I was not immediately turned off to the idea of his playing wheelchair-bound Franklin Roosevelt in Roger Michell’s “Hyde Park on Hudson.” He’s actually rather good in it, especially if you can dispense with all those newsreels of the real FDR you’ve got spinning in your mind.

It’s a fairly lightweight performance, though, as befitting a fairly lightweight movie. Ostensibly about the dalliance between the president and his sixth cousin Daisy (Laura Linney), it quickly shades into a sort of “The King’s Speech” redo, as King George VI (Samuel West) and Queen Elizabeth (the wonderful Olivia Colman) visit FDR in Hyde Park. West’s “Bertie” isn’t up to Colin Firth’s, but Michell manages to wring the requisite mixture of pathos and mirth from the confab.

Still, it’s never altogether clear why this visually blah and dramatically bland movie needed to be made at all (or why it wasn’t made for television instead). The only answer I can come up with is that Murray wanted to show off with a cigarette-holder. Grade: B- (Rated R for brief sexuality)