The Reel Review

B

Rocketman isn’t just a biopic about Elton John – it also is a surreal musical fantasy, starring Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Eddie The Eagle), tracing the entertainer’s evolution from an awkward, lonely teenager to eccentric pop superstar.

With its spontaneous songs and intricately choreographed scenes, the film, while an entertaining crowd pleaser, often feels more like a corny Broadway play. The decision by director Dexter Fletcher (Bohemian Rhapsody) to inject the story with a quirky vibe mirroring John’s own larger-than-life personality is often brilliant, but several times – its opening number, in particular – it goes terribly off key. The film’s honest and unflinching inclusion of gay sex and drug abuse is commendable, and Egerton’s portrait of John is impressively spot on.

Unfortunately, other than revealing that John had a miserable childhood and a myriad of addictions (booze, drugs, sex, and shopping), we don’t learn a lot about him, other than an over exaggerated, villainous portrait of his first boyfriend/longtime manager John Reid (Richard Madden). The film’s more poignant moments are the quiet ones, where we discover John’s musical brilliance, his insecurities and his relationship with longtime friend/lyricist Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell). Had there been more of those moments, this good film could have been great.

REEL FACTS

• Ironically, Elton John co-starred with Taron Egerton in 2017’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Egerton also sang Elton John’s hit song “I’m Still Standing” in the 2016 animated film, Sing.

Music producer John Reid, played by Game of Thrones and Bodyguard star Richard Madden, was played by Madden’s Game of Thrones co-star Aiden Gillen (Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish) in 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Reid left the music business in 1998. and reportedly is living a quiet life in either Australia or London.

• For years, Tom Hardy was attached to star in Rocketman, but had to drop out due to a schedule conflict. Others considered for the role were James McAvoy, Daniel Radcliffe, Tom Cruise and Elton John’s personal favorite, Justin Timberlake.

 

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