Bubba Ho-tep ought to have been great. I mean, hey: Elvis, JFK, Texas, and a mummy. What’s not to like?
I think the problem was that the setup creates a certain gonzo expectation, and the movie doesn’t want to be gonzo. The movie wants to be a tragi-comic exploration of old age in a nursing home, with a dark sarcastic twist in the form of the mummy. It works pretty well on that level, but it sabotages itself because, hey — it’s Elvis! Funny!
If Elvis and JFK had been more clearly delusional, that might have helped. However, Bruce Campbell does an absolutely spot-on Elvis. Now, it’s possible to believe that Ossie Davis’ character isn’t really JFK. In fact, it’s pretty easy, because he doesn’t do a very good JFK impression and he’s sort of the wrong ethnicity. Bruce is perfect, though. I couldn’t bring myself to doubt that this old man actually was Elvis, even though the backstory was pretty implausible.
Of course, the mummy was pretty implausible too. There’re those gonzo expectations again.
Anyhow, I still enjoyed it. There are moments of brilliance, both lunatic and otherwise. I really felt for Elvis/Sebastian. It’s just that the setup doesn’t work for the story.