Rocketman Movie Review
In the first scene of the creative musical Rocketman, Elton John, donned in a glittering devil’s outfit complete with horns and wings, enters a group therapy session and admits to being an alcoholic. A cocaine addict. A sex addict. A bulimic. Most “biopics” produced and approved by the subject himself wouldn’t be so bold to immediately address the massive flaws of the individual, but then again, most biopics aren’t Rocketman.
If only the rest of Rocketman were so daring.
Directed by Dexter Fletcher (Eddie the Eagle) and written by Lee Hall (Billy Elliot), Rocketman promises to be different. Fantastical. Original. And yet when all is said and done, what you’ve learned about the rock star Elton John is that… he’s a rock star. He got his big break. He has amazing talent. He had lots of sex. Drank a lot. Did a lot of drugs. Nearly died a couple of times.
In other words, Rocketman is more straightforward, generic, and predictable than it lets on.
That’s not to say Rocketman isn’t worth a trip or two around the moon. The movie is stuffed full of Elton John classics, so going in you know it’s going to have terrific music. And the way Fletcher and Hall move through his life, using musical numbers and group therapy sessions to advance his story—and tell his story—is clever and largely seamless.
Unlike last year’s controversial (well, controversial only to critics and Hollywood insiders—regular audiences didn’t give a damn) hit Bohemian Rhapsody, which took things more literally, Rocketman flexes its glittery muscles with confidence, willing to literally lift its characters off their feet.
That doesn’t necessarily make it better.
As a full-on musical, Rocketman never presents more than surface-level insight into the singer’s life, even as it is fully comfortable addressing his homosexuality, drug use, and more. Rocketman is probably the way Elton John’s story should be told, but that doesn’t mean it ultimately is any more satisfying than any other biopic about a musical star or group you’ve seen.
Rocketman is a well-made movie with a strong performance by star Taron Egerton, but the musical numbers and the music itself can only elevate the material so much.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.