“What stutter? This goddamn polio!” – FDR, Hyde Park on Hudson
“You have all of the skills in the world but you have no confidence. Now, sack up, man!” – Sydney Fife, I Love You, Man
In recent years, the bromance genre has come into full fruition. Most of these films center on male relationships with similar dynamics, with one man taking the role of ribald bad influence on his more nebbish, uptight friend. Take I Love You, Man, for example – uptight, friendless Peter (Paul Rudd) meets freewheelin’ Rush enthusiast Sydney (Jason Segel) and gradually comes out of his shell over the course of their bonding.
Similarly, the heart of Roger Michell’s Hyde Park on Hudson (review here) is the “special relationship” between FDR (Bill Murray) and King George VI (Samuel West). In a sense, the film connotes that the US supports Britain during WWII because of the fact that FDR and Bertie become bros. After some bonding and chatting (and presumably some deep research in foreign policy), FDR makes the decision to help his buddy out and encourages him to have confidence in himself as a leader. Thus begs the question: what if Hyde Park on Hudson was re-purposed as a bromance? And so it goes:
FDR is a ladies man who likes to hit the sauce from time to time. He has a tried and true method for snaring the womenfolk – he shows them his vast stamp collection – and it works every time. In addition to running the country, he’s got 99-type problems now that his mistress found out about his other mistress… and let’s not forget that old battleax wife Eleanor is still milling around!
Meanwhile, King George VI (aka Bertie) and his wife are making their way to stay at FDR’s home for the weekend. Both are super uptight and have a comical misunderstanding of America. When they stop for a rest on a road alongside a cornfield, for instance, he proclaims, “I want to meet some Americans!” as he sees a tractor go by.
Some drama – word gets out to the royal couple that the FDR plans to serve them hot dogs at their upcoming picnic! Queen Elizabeth, forever the pill, thinks the hot dogs are an insult. Bertie, however, is willing to roll with the punches. Though the doubt lingers on whether or not FDR is trying to make a fool out of them…
Dinner that evening is a real turning point for the two bros-to-be. Influenced by FDR, Bertie enjoys a cocktail (in public!) and starts mimicking his zany behavior. Without provocation, a shelf holding all of the dinner plates collapses mere feet away from the dinner table and fortified by martinis, Bertie is first to call “party foul!” Egged on by FDR’s laughter, Bertie calls out another when one of the maids falls down while holding the tray. Queen Elizabeth looks on disapprovingly – why, he’s acting absolutely American!
After dinner, FDR and Bertie go to the study for a man-to-man talk. It’s time to talk chicks… and foreign policy, too. FDR shares his favorite method of nabbing “birds,” the stamps, and emphasizes the necessity in getting his women off his back. He proclaims, “You have to give them a reason not to bother you!” Bertie nods excitedly, since Queen Elizabeth is always on his case about something. Bertie shares that he’s not confident in his kingship, considering his stutter and all. FDR smirks, “What stutter? This goddamn polio!” An exchange of meaningful looks and giggling occurs, and thus the bromance is in full bloom. After imbibing, a drunk Bertie scampers up the stairs, enlivened by this hearty man-to-man chat, and into the bedroom…
A day or so later, temperatures climb and our bros decide to take a swim. It’s cool – the paparazzi can’t capture this “boys gone wild” moment, since FDR forbids any photo taking. Gleefully, the two drive past the paps in their bathing suits, smiling with self-satisfaction.
The day of reckoning is upon them: the hot dog picnic. Is FDR being forthright with all this hot dog business? Queen Elizabeth is still doubtful about the sausage fest, and Bertie cheekily snaps back that he will eat ten of them! Sure enough, FDR was keeping it real. The hot dogs are delicious (and also symbolically strengthened relations between the US and Britain).
FDR also agrees to help his bro out in WWII. Our boys have forged a special relationship indeed!