One other day, one other biopic of a music celebrity who had a lotta ups and downs — however Rocketman, now out there free for Amazon Prime and Hulu subscribers, aimed to be much less concerning the story and extra concerning the telling. This model of Elton John’s rise to fame and struggles with love and different medicine is a full-blown, break-out-into-song musical, massive and loud and garish as solely an Elton bio needs to be. Though such a technique certainly bullseyes full-blown, break-out-into-worship Eltonians, the movie might have extra to supply informal viewers than the standard jukebox-nostalgia system.


The Gist: Elton John (Taron Egerton) strolls into an AA assembly in full regalia — a million-zillion sequins, glasses out to right here and satan horns and angel wings symbolizing the hell out of issues. He recounts how he was extra colourful than each different resident in his 1950s English suburb, as a result of he sings “The Bitch is Again” as a grade-schooler, and his neighbors are all rendered in black-and-white. That’s the form of film that is — a literal one. If a hammer must be nailed on its head, it’ll fortunately hammer it.

I digress. Again then, Elton was Reginald Dwight (Matthew Illesley when youthful, Equipment Connor when a bit older), the son of an ice-cold motherfather of a father (Steven Waterproof coat) and an excessively harsh however considerably supportive critic (Bryce Dallas Howard). He favored taking part in piano, and landed some gigs down the pub, and he will get older throughout Saturday Night time’s Alright for Combating, which is strictly how I really feel everytime I hear that track. BUT ANYHOO, he’s Taron Egerton now, and he meets Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell), they usually instantly sing collectively proper there within the coffeeshop, and the film kind of turns into a love story of a homosexual man and a straight man who made a lot lovely platonic music collectively, you could possibly simply freaking weep.

Earlier than lengthy, the chemical explosiveness of Elton’s music and Bernie’s lyrics snares them a supervisor and a document deal and a visit to Los Angeles, the place Elton dons some overalls and glasses which can be solely like yea-big and levitates the viewers a foot off the ground throughout Crocodile Rock. He meets John Reid (Richard Madden) and falls head-over-gigantic-platform-heels in love. The richer he will get, the larger his glasses get and the extra insanely peacock-garish his outfits get. Quickly, he’s taking stadium levels wanting like an explosion on the clown manufacturing unit. Reid strikes in as his supervisor and lover, nevertheless it will get actual acrimonious; he stays on for the tens of millions of {dollars} whereas Elton begins doing the factor with the capsules and vodka and blow, and finds himself on the tippy-top and the very backside at the very same time.

Rocketman on Hulu
Photograph: Everett Assortment

Efficiency Value Watching: Egerton will get it proper — a shy-at-heart man who compensates for his shyness by wanting and singing very, very loud. His singing voice is spot-on, and he reveals simply sufficient coronary heart to maintain this film from being too airy-light or too depressingly earthbound.

What Films Will It Remind You Of?: Bohemian Rhapsody isn’t half the movie Rocketman is. Director Dexter Fletcher directed each, though he was principally a employed gun for Bohemian, changing the ousted Bryan Singer mid-production. That cornball mess was timid (hey, Freddie Mercury was nearly kind of homosexual, mayyyybeeeee?) and in the end clashed with the spirit of its topic. Rocketman is all gusto, with memorable musical sequences, and generally is homosexual as heck, and all the higher for it.

Memorable Dialogue: “My identify is Elton Hercules John, and I’m an alcoholic. And a cocaine addict. And a intercourse addict. And a bulimic. I’m additionally a shopaholic who has issues with weed, prescribed drugs and anger administration.”

Intercourse and Pores and skin: Elton has a few tumbles-in-the-hay with fellas, nevertheless it’s nothing too graphic.

Our Take: It’s not the story — it’s the type, silly. Fletcher overdirects Rocketman in all the proper methods, with the digicam shifting and the folks shifting and singing and every part being a contact overstated however not a lot that it’s irritating like sand in your crack. Elton’s strong rockers and heartfelt earnest songs all get their correct due in tonally excellent context, none extra so than the movie’s centerpiece sequence, wherein our troubled celebrity glugs some vodka and a handful of capsules and jumps right into a swimming pool and finds his baby self on the backside, solely to be pulled from the water and pushed on stage at Dodger Stadium the place he sings the track that’s additionally the title after which launches proper off the floor of the planet identical to the topic of the track that’s additionally the title.

So sure, exaggeration is fully the purpose, as a result of to have fun Elton John and his exuberant and honest music with out hyperbole is to fireside the arrow north when the goal is south. It shuffles the chronology of his life and songs to tidy up the messiness of issues as they’re, and follows by means of on its promise to ship a “musical fantasy” in all its exuberance. If you wish to know all of the ins and outs of Elton’s life because it truly occurred, nicely, that’s what boring stuff like Wikipedia is for.

Our Name: STREAM IT. Did we’d like one other simple biopic a few popular culture icon? Hell no. However we’re glad this one exists.

John Serba is a contract author and movie critic based mostly in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Learn extra of his work at or observe him on Twitter: @johnserba.

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