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Review: Rocketman

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ROCKETMAN

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One of the most accurate memes to pop up post-Oscars stated (and I’m paraphrasing in parts), “Congrats to Ethan Hawke for winning Best Actor for First Reformed — wait, he wasn’t even nominated? OK, then congrats to Bradley Cooper for doing his own singing in A Star Is Born — oh, he didn’t win, either? Then congrats to Christian Bale for physically transforming himself in Vice — hold on, he also didn’t win? Rami Malek for Bohemian Rhapsody? Rami seems like a nice guy, but you blew this one, Academy.”
That miscue — Malek was quite good as Queen frontsman Freddie Mercury, but that was not an Oscar-worthy turn — becomes even more pronounced with the release of Rocketman, a biopic about Elton John.

As the legendary pop star, Taron Egerton is sensational … and he does his own singing, to boot (Malek mostly only did his own lip-syncing). It will be a shame if he’s passed over for Oscar consideration because of some silly “been there, done that” feelings on the part of voters.

It isn’t just Egerton who outshines the competition: Even if it doesn’t soar as high as one would like, Rocketman is still a better movie than Bohemian Rhapsody, which suffered in part from its PG-13 designation.



Rocketman is a solid R, which is more in line for this sort of warts-and-all picture. As just one example, take the homosexuality of each film’s central figure.

In an effort to squeeze every last dollar out of Middle America, Bohemian Rhapsody often tried to downplay Freddie’s fondness for the lads, with risible scenes that played like G-rated outtakes from William Friedkin’s notorious 1980 dud Cruising. This new movie is more honest with its protagonist’s sexual orientation.

While it isn’t quite Brokeback Rocketman, it doesn’t shy away from following Elton as he grapples with his longings and eventually enters into a relationship with John Reid, who managed both Elton and Queen. (Amusingly, Reid is portrayed here as a scumbag by Richard Madden while portrayed as an affable chap by Aidan Gillen in Bohemian Rhapsody.)

Rocketman cannily protects itself from the usual accusations of distorting history by unspooling as a musical fantasy. One scene presents Elton as a young boy (and still going by his real name of Reginald Dwight) suddenly busting out into song, treating a barroom full of people to “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.”

Another finds him and writing partner Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell) testing out material for music publisher Dick James (Stephen Graham) toward the start of their career in 1967, with one of the sampled tunes being “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” (which of course wasn’t even created until 1983).



This fanciful approach does more than allow the filmmakers greater freedom in bending facts — it also takes the movie out of the stodgy template of the usual biopic focusing on the rise and fall and comeback of an enduring artist.

When it’s all over, Elton is still standing, and, thanks to its inventive approach and a dazzling performance by Egerton, so is the movie itself.

Film Details Rocketman
ROCKETMAN is an epic musical fantasy about the incredible human story of Elton John’s breakthrough years. The film follows the fantastical journey of transformation from shy piano prodigy Reginald Dwight into international superstar Elton John. This inspirational story – set to Elton John’s most beloved songs and performed by star Taron Egerton – tells the universally relatable story of how a small-town boy became one of the most iconic figures in pop culture. ROCKETMAN also stars Jamie Bell as Elton’s longtime lyricist and writing partner Bernie Taupin, Richard Madden as Elton’s first manager, John Reid, and Bryce Dallas Howard as Elton’s mother Sheila Farebrother.
Biography, Drama, Fantasy and Musical
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Trailers

    Credits

    Rocketman

    Rated NR

    2019

    Director:

    • Dexter Fletcher

    Cast:

    • Taron Egerton
    • Jamie Bell
    • Richard Madden
    • Bryce Dallas Howard
    • David Reid

    Writer:

    • Lee Hall

    Producers:

    • Matthew Vaughn
    • David Furnish
    • Adam Bohling
    • David Reid

    Rocketman

    Rated R

    121 minutes

    2019

    Director:

    • Dexter Fletcher

    Cast:

    • Taron Egerton
    • Jamie Bell
    • Richard Madden
    • Bryce Dallas Howard
    • Gemma Jones

    Writer:

    • Lee Hall

    Producers:

    • Adam Bohling
    • Brian Oliver
    • Claudia Schiffer
    • Claudia Vaughn
    • Danny Zamost
    • David Furnish
    • David Reid
    • Diane Hendricks
    • Elton John
    • Italo Marzotto
    • Jodi Sue Loeb
    • Karine Martin
    • Lauren Selig
    • Lawrence Bender
    • Matthew Vaughn
    • Michael Gracey
    • Peter Schlessel
    • Steve Hamilton Shaw
    • Tommaso Marzotto

    Rocketman

    Rated NR

    2019

    Director:

    • Dexter Fletcher

    Cast:

    • Bryce Dallas Howard
    • Richard Madden
    • Taron Egerton
    • Jamie Bell
    • Steven Mackintosh

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