“Rocketman” (2019) Film Review

Dir; Dexter Fletcher. Starring; Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Bryce Dallas Howard. R. Color. 121 min.
Finally, finally, finally we get a big budget musical bio-pic that is not paint by numbers. My goodness it feels like twenty plus years since a film has had the gaul to be just a little bit different without going over the edge. “Rocketman” is not just an ode to the great Elton John, it is an embodiment of whom the legend is and how he came to be in his own unique way.
Plot details of course do not matter because in today’s world all you have to do is google the man. What director Dexter Fletcher and star Taron Egerton get from the opening frame is the spirit of how special this performer is and was.
We open with Egerton kicking in the doors wearing a devil type costume in slow motion only to enter, wait for it, a rehab support group which shapes the entire story of the film. Elton is forced to recount his childhood upbringing and the initial musical sequence has him in the same devil outfit while singing and dancing with people living on the block. Already we know this film experience is going to be different.
Elton finds a love for the piano and singing despite his hard ass cheating military father Stanley (Steven Mackintosh) and “who gives a damn” alcoholic mother Sheila (Bryce Dallas Howard). After a series of cliche events, as all biopics must have, Elton meets his song writer Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell). While battling with admitting he is gay, Elton forms a life long friendship with Bernie despite an awkward night of drinking as the pair go on to make some of the greatest music in history.
That’s about all the plot you need other than manager guy screws him and contracts don’t work out and drug use ten fold, blah, blah. What makes “Rocketman” special is the way in which different periods of Elton John’s life are framed with the music both on the stage and everyday life. It is an odd musical because it will go from your stereotypical showtime moments (which may or may not be real), to out of the blue songs featuring characters one would not expect to be singing, then back to a big concert. An unbelievable orchestra with Elton as a little boy with a flashlight in his room comes to mind.
The point is that just when this biography is turning into an episode of “VH1 Behind the Music” it pops up with something one could never see coming. Yes the cliche exists but it is not forced. The poppy scenes which include a few brand new tracks from Elton John happen naturally. I’d rather let the audience experience for themselves but I will say the “Tiny Dancer” sequence is my favorite in its poignancy to the story, the phenomenal filming, and the editing to use that song in a precise moment.
“Rocketman” is a unique film experience. It travels that line between an out of your mind trip bad movie such as Oliver Stone’s “The Doors” and a no insight at all picture such as “Straight Outta Compton”. For my money, one of the best musical bio-pics in a heck of a long time. I did not grow up with Elton John and learned his work from my parents. One wishes this film can remind the next generation “I HOPE YOU DON’T MIND, I HOPE DON’T MIND THAT I PUT DOWN IN WORDS, HOW WONDERFUL LIFE IS WHEN YOU’RE IN THE WORLD.
Suck Factor: 1 out of 7 (7 means your movie really SUCKS!)
Written by Byrd
The SUCK FACTOR, how it works. We have flipped the rating system upside down. If a film is classic, it gets a 0. Meaning that movie has 0 SUCKS. If a film is complete trash you must avoid at all costs, it gets a 7, meaning this movie really SUCKS!

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