There has been a strange resurgence of the King of Rock n’ Roll lately. Just last year, we got an intense big-screen adaptation of the life of Elvis, and now the King is getting his own animated series. It seems that the Elvis state is trying to revive the icon that was Elvis in any way, shape, or form. Will they be successful? Only time will tell, but, indeed, new generations won’t ever know who Elvis is. They will certainly not get it from this very niche Netflix animated series that, while entertaining, feels a bit hollow overall.
Agent Elvis is a Netflix animated series created by Priscilla Presley and John Eddie. The series tells the story of Elvis Presley at the peak of his popularity, just after his mythical Christmas special. However, soon after being targeted by dangerous individuals, Elvis sees himself being drawn into a world of espionage, assassins, and conspiracies. The series counts on an enormous cast of voice talent that includes Priscilla Presley, Matthew McConaughey, Johnny Knoxville, Don Cheadle, Christina Hendricks, Kaitlin Olson, Simon Pegg, Kiera Culkin, and Tara Strong.
Sony Pictures Animation takes the reigns of the project. The result is a series with a particular art style that will stand out from the rest of the animated productions on Netflix and other streaming services. Having such a particular art style is the first thing audiences will notice, but it is also the first thing I like so much about this show. Lately, the entire adult animated series art style has been kidnapped by the style of shows like Inside Job or Rick and Morty. This style is fine, but having every series just be a palette variation on it feels quite uninspired.
If there is one show Agent Elvis is pulling from is the fantastic and always funny Archer. Is Archer a better show? Sure, Archer has had 13 seasons and has been on the air since 2009. How? The quality of the writing in Archer is top-notch, and from season one, the characters became quite lovable, even if they were not particularly nice people. Elvis is trying to mix what Archer did as a parody of James Bond and unify it with Elvis’ own lore, which is quite extensive. In that way, this animated series feels like a nice companion to last year’s live-action film.
Each series episode is packed with action jokes and an overarching plot where Elvis needs to get involved in this world of assassins to keep his family safe. It is quite endearing and paints Elvis as a man who is willing to do anything for his art and his family. It also paints him in this larger-than-life persona, which he was, but this time includes characteristics such as being a great fighter and an overall natural super spy. Elvis might be a bit too overpowered in this show, and sometimes it feels like we are dealing with a Gary Stu in the house.
The cast is doing a great job; Matthew McConaughey is going full into his mythical southern accent, and sometimes removing the McConaughey from the Elvis is very hard. It is hard to argue that McConaughey is doing a great job here, but it is also hard to say if the actor is disappearing into the role. It feels more like Elvis is becoming Matthew McConaughey instead of the other way around. On the other hand, Christina Hendricks might have the absolute best voice performance on the show. She goes through every single emotion and does it with enthusiasm.
The rest of the cast does it well, but not even Johnny Knoxville, who has a prominent role on the show, manages to create a powerful character. This might be one of the biggest issues with the show. The characters feel more like pieces in the plot than characters that generate the plot. They are also not particularly interesting on their own. This is where I need to use the cast of Archer to compare what to do or how to build a very interesting cast of characters, even if your focus needs to be on one particular main protagonist.
The show does feel very much like a celebration and a homage to Elvis himself. There is plenty of use of the King’s music in every episode, and time is also given to the character to perform such music. Some parts of the show tend to get away from the darker aspects of the character that were introduced in last year’s live-action film, so if you saw that movie, this version of the character might feel a bit too perfect for its own good. This is an adult-animated series, so maybe those aspects of the character could have taken a more prominent seat, making the character feel more real.
Ultimately, Agent Elvis is an entertaining-animated show that is perfect for those who enjoy shows like Archer. It might not be as good as that one, but at least it tries to be unique in its art style and in the way music is used in every episode. The plot is a bit flat, and the characters are as well, except for Elvis himself, but the voice actors are all doing a fantastic job. Can this show sustain itself for many seasons? It is hard to say, but it feels like this show would be better if it would give the chance of growing to its characters in a future season.