Film Review: Elton John Bio ‘Rocketman’ Doesn’t Deliver

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CHICAGO – As a wee lad, one of the first records I bought was Elton John’s Greatest Hits. The album was magnficent, each song expressing the very emotion it sought to deliver. With that basis in mind, I approached John’s biopic “Rocketman” with a hope of deliverance. It felt flatter than a pancake under a steam roller. Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

Everything was off. The casting of Taron Egerton as the title character, although he gave it the old college try, never felt like Elton. The use of John’s music as fantasy elements (as if it were a movie musical) would have been fine if the film had followed through with that particular magic. The part time use was jarring, and the numbers had a “Mamma Mia” (not a compliment) quality to them … director Dexter Fletcher (“Eddie the Eagle”) bit off more than we could digest. And finally, the focus on EJ’s numbing drug use. Gosh, I’d never seen that in a rock biography before (/snark), and yes it happened, but it was boring. Where was the fun? Elton John is frigging fun! In “Rocketman,” he seems like a marketing scheme for a movie rather than a human.

Reggie Dwight, AKA Elton John (Taron Egerton) was born in England right after World War II, right in time to grow up in the teeth of the rock and roll movement. With little encouragement from his mother (Bryce Dallas Howard) or absent father (Stanley Mackintosh), he embarked on a piano journey, first through the Royal Academy of Music, and then through his early pop combo Bluesology.

Looking to free himself in the Swingin’ London of the 1960s, the newly dubbed Elton John serendipitously found lyricist Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell) through a music agency, and the two embarked on a 10-year hits making period unprecedented in its popularity. But the rock star life battered Elton personally, in his semi-closeted state as a gay man, and the availability of self medication. It was spinning out of control.

“Rocketman” opens everywhere on May 31th. Featuring Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Bryce Dallas Howard, Gemma Jones and Steven Mackintosh. Written by Lee Hall. Directed by Dexter Fletcher. Rated “R”

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Rocketman”

The Troubadour: Taron Egerton as Elton John in ‘Rocketman’
Photo credit: Paramount Pictures

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Rocketman”

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