Review: Rocketman (2019)

Director: Dexter Fletcher
Screenwriter: Lee Hall
Starring: Aaron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard, Gemma Jones
MPAA Rating: R (for language throughout, some drug use, and sexual content)
Genres: Drama, Musical, Biopic
Theatrical Release Date: May 31, 2019
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

As much as I enjoyed Bohemian Rhapsody, after seeing Rocketman, I’m inclined to view the Rami Malik Oscar-winning flick as amateur filmmaking — odd, especially since Dexter Fletcher was involved in both movies, although his influence was far more noticeable and impactful on the new Elton John biopic.

As had been already said, Rocketman is far from subtle.  But would you expect anything less from a film based on the life of someone who lived and performed (and dressed!) so extravagantly?  One thing that this film possesses that the other lacks is originality: incorporating musical sequences into various segments of John’s life gives it a La La Land-like feel.  But, unlike that Emma Stone Oscar-winning flick, Rocketman is packed with so many of John’s hits that you can’t help but be impressed by how well they work.  

In addition, Rocketman spends as little time on John’s heterosexual relationships as BoRap spent on Freddie Mercury’s homosexual ones, and that’s a good thing.  While the only sexual relationship of note in Rocketman is between John and his manager John Reid (a charming and wigged-out Richard Madden), that is only part of the story.  Director Fletcher does not shy away from depicting the most upsetting and difficult times of the legend’s life, perhaps thanks to John’s blessing (he’s also an executive producer).  

But none of this would work without the right person in the lead role.  And, thankfully, Taron Egerton is more than up to the task.  Whereas Malik’s portrayal of Mercury was more of an imitation and impersonation, Edgerton lives and breathes as John — as cliche as this may sound, he seems to have been born to play the role.  Jamie Bell as Bernie Taupin is pretty great too, and Bryce Dallas Howard does the best she can with the evil mom role, but the movie rests on Egerton’s more-than-capable shoulders.

Grade: A