Jake’s Take at the Movies: Rocketman

Rocketman brought Sir Elton John’s legendary life to the silver screen. (Poster property of Paramount Productions)

By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com

I have been waiting to see Sir Elton John’s biopic Rocketman for the past few months.  The legendary Grammy and Oscar-winning musician is one of my music heroes. I had the great fortune to see him at Madison Square Garden in October 2018.  It was a huge thrill to see him live after spending 25 years as a fan. 

There were multiple questions that wandered through my mind as I watched him perform “Bennie & The Jets,” “The Bitch is Back,” “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” and “Your Song.” How did he meet his iconic collaborator Bernie Taupin? How was he able to conceive and execute magnificent arrangements that will stand the test of time? Hopefully, Rocketman would be able to answer some of my questions.

Warning! Brief spoilers of Rocketman are ahead!

Rocketman begins where Elton John (Taron Egerton) lands at a rehabilitation center after hitting rock bottom. He takes his recovery group and its moderator on a wild ride that began with Elton’s childhood as Reginald Dwight (Kit Connor, Matthew Illesley, and Egerton).  The future global superstar had a rough childhood thanks to his estranged and absentee father Stanley (Steven Mackintosh) and crude mother Shelia (Bryce Dallas Howard).  

However, thanks to Shelia and his grandmother, Ivy (Gemma Jones), Reginald was attracted to music. After taking lessons, his impeccable piano playing caught the attention of the Royal Academy of Music, where he enrolled as a student. His mother also introduced him to the Rock and Roll: Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard, when she brought home his records. It were those records that helped him become interested in performing, which lead to him performing as a part of the R&B group Bluesology. 

While touring with the group, Reginald discovers an intriguing want ad that leads him to Ray Williams (Charlie Rowe). Impressed with his music, he pairs the newly minted Elton John with a songwriter named Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell). After exchanging songs and melodies, the pair finally meets in person and form an unbreakable bond. Eventually, the pair present “Your Song” for Dick James (Stephen Graham), who sends Elton to Los Angeles to perform at the legendary Troubador club. 

End of Rocketman Spoilers!

There is not a doubt that Rocketman is a spectacular visual experience. The film team did a phenomenal job bringing Elton’s world to life. A significant portion of the film’s success is its musical numbers. “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” combined elements of Grease, West Side Story, and a little hint of Bollywood; while there were some moments in “Crocodile Rock” that I thought I was watching Cirque du Soleil.

Egerton delivered an amazing portrayal of Sir Elton John. He made the “Your Song” performer proud with his splendid showmanship and ability to capture the audience’s attention.  He had amazing chemistry with both Bell’s Bernie Taupin and Richard Madden’s John Reid, who managed and had an affair with the singer.

Another performer that deserves kudos is Bryce Dallas Howard. The Jurassic World actress delivered a remarkable portrayal of Elton’s late mother, Sheila. It was intriguing to learn how toxic the singer’s relationship was with his mom as they grew older. In 2017, People reported that Elton did indeed make amends with Sheila before her death.

I had a slight issue with Lee Hall’s screenplay. Rocketman does not address some important events that occurred in the 1990s and 2000s that fans would expect to be addressed. Those events could have possibly included  meeting husband David Furnish, how Elton handled the deaths of intimate friends such as Freddie Mercury, Gianni Versace, and Princess Diana, and how The Lion King revitalized his career.  I think that it was a major mistake not incorporating these events into the film.

Final thoughts & grade: Rocketman is a superb visual film that brilliantly brings Elton John’s world to life. While the film does not address Elton’s life post rehab, Egerton, Bell, and Howard’s amazing performances along with spectacular musical numbers makes this movie memorable. B/B+  

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  1. […] am very fond of original music from Elton John and Bernie Taupin. For Rocketman, the iconic songwriting team recruited Taron Egerton to perform the track with Elton. I got chills […]

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Copyright 2019 Jacob Elyachar