Rocketman (R)

*This review may contain spoilers

***

As  a matter of full disclosure,  I admit I am a huge Elton John fan. Love the man and his music; so much that I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite Elton song. I state this so you know to consider the source of the following review. Let’s get into it.

***

Written (screenplay) by writer/composer Lee Hall, directed by actor/director/writer Dexter Fletcher, and starring actor (and now singer, apparently (although he’s sung before)) Taron Egerton, Rocketman tells the story of the early life, rise to fame, fall and resurrection of beloved musical icon,  Sir Elton John.

Rocketman is not your average biopic. it is more. It is a fantasy/imagining of a musical based on the life of Elton John, set to his music. It’s as if a biographical Broadway musical were made into a film first. In this sense (and others) Rocketman is a uniquely well done. I say that even though I was very directly reminded of the stories behind Billy Elliot and Kinky Boots (that resemblance is more plot-related rather than production-related, which I’ll get to shortly).

If you think you’re going in to see yet another actor lip sync your favorite tunes, I can’t say whether you’ll be pleasantly surprised or disappointed, but Egerton sings the songs here. This move is refreshing in a sea of lip syncing biopics, but at the same time a bit of a let-down. On the heels of Bohemian Rhapsody (my review in the link), which was a lip syncing, concert-driven film, I was looking forward to singing along to Elton. While Egerton did a good job and his renditions of the songs kept me engaged, he didn’t draw me in and make me want to sing along. I was too busy listening to him – judging. I didn’t know he would be singing going in, so it surprised me. (Not in a good way or a bad way. I just wasn’t expecting it.) Not to mention, there are few songs sung in their entirety, which (purposefully or not) reduces the “feelgoodism” of the movie – and not necessarily in a good way. Certain scenes feel stifled, like they’re just cut short as we hear a few lines from a song or its familiar melody, the song stops, and we cut to the next scene.

This chop of the songs not being fully realized is brilliant, as we look at John work on his music in its infancy, as works in progress, rather than the final product – just as we view John himself throughout this film, never arriving at the final product, which is John as he lives life today.

Rocketman is a mostly well done, raw representation of one man’s struggles within himself. This is the “humanization” of an idol. Like most everyone else, despite his fame and fortune, Elton John had to learn to love himself, accept himself, process past hurts, come to terms with people and circumstances he couldn’t change, etc., in order to survive as a functioning adult with adult, non self-destructive, coping mechanisms in order to help heal past hurts and fill empty voids in his life.

There’s are layers upon layers of psychology involving the sources of John’s insecurities/shyness in his early years which lend more to the story than the typical rock n’ roll issues of addiction, depression, egoism, narcissism, etc.

The plot, however, does follow the formula of shy, lonely, talented kid makes good and is consumed by fame, but the triumph here is John is a survivor in the end, outlasting many of his peers who literally died, some might say, before their time. Unlike those peers, at some point John sought the help he needed and did the necessary work to outlive his rock and roll greatness. This is an important message. Of course, like most biopics, much of the plot is out of sequence and “Hollywood slick” (a/k/a made up) to make a pat, marketable, 2 hour 1 minute story.

The acting is strong. Ron Howard‘s daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard does an outstanding job as John’s mother. The costumes are divine (of course). The music is fine (of course). The dance numbers draw you in. The energy of Rocketman, during John’s performances and the choreographed numbers, is palpable.

Rocketman earned 8 bloops out of 10. It’s a great movie that’s worth seeing – don’t miss it if you’re a fan of the man and/or his music. It is realistically uplifting and not saturated in gooey, feel good vibes. It is imaginative in its production. The costumes are stylishly used to draw a vivid parallel to Elton’s egoism as they become more and more outrageous (by the end his costumes were like a cry for help!). The musical works in progress draw a parallel to life itself – specifically Elton’s life. Given John’s love of music and musical theater, Rocketman is exactly what one would expect of a movie about Elton John in an Elton John approved movie.

***

Thank you for reading. You can scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, hit the “follow” button and enter your email address to subscribe to bloopbymimi, and never miss a review; or you can follow me on twitter (which I must get more savvy with and active on!) @bloopbymimi1

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

What I’ll review next…

Ma – I saw it last night before Rocketman. The review will be up tomorrow.

Other Reviews (Please excuse the look of this section. It is a work in progress.)
Shazam
Dumbo
Us
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood
The Wife
If Beale Street Could Talk
What Men Want
Eighth Grade                          Vice                                                     Roma
Mary Queen of Scots            Widows                                              The Favourite
Green Book                            Halloween                                         Nobody’s Fool
Bohemian Rhapsody            Beautiful Boy                                    The Hate U Give
First Man                                Assassination Nation                       The Oath
A Star is Born                        The House with a Clock in Its Walls  A Simple Favor

The Predator                           BlackkKlansman                              Support the Girls
Peppermint                             Christopher Robin                            Crazy Rich Asians
The Happytime Murders      RBG                                                     Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Sorry to Bother You               
You Were Never Really Here
Rampage                                   A Quiet Place                                   Ready Player One
A Wrinkle in Time                  Lady Bird                                          I, Tonya
The Florida Project                 Black Panther                                  Molly’s Game
The Post                                    Phantom Thread                             Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World  Coco                                                   The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist                 Call Me By Your Name

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The Shape of Water                Marshall                  The Man Who Invented Christmas

Victoria and Abdul                 Thor: Ragnarok                    Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Mother!                                     It                                             Good Time
Atomic Blonde                         Dunkirk                                 Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming   The Big Sick                          Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me                       It Comes at Night                  The Wedding Plan 
Wonder Woman                    Everything, everything        King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw                                           Kong: Skull Island              Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts    A Cure for Wellness           Get Out
Hidden Figures                      Fences                                   Moonlight
Hell or High Water                Loving                                  La La Land
Lion                                          Manchester by the Sea     Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge                      Nocturnal Animals            Captain Fantastic
Elle                                           Jackie                                    I Am Not Your Negro
The Lobster

 

 

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