6/1/19

Rocketman

Let's get this clear right away: I was never a fan of Elton John. I could take him or leave him although I was aware of his fame and certainly recognize some of his music. The framing devise is a 12-step meeting where our fantastically clad rock star admits to all of his addictions. The story unfolds through flashbacks.

This songbook musical makes absolutely no pretense to realism: The songs aren't chronological; people dance in the street; whole crowds levitate! But let me hasten to add, this musical has it all! Costumes, production design, wonderful sets and most of all, it boasts one of the best performances by an actor I have seen all year. I am crediting director Dexter Fletcher ("Eddie the Eagle") and anyone involved in the production. (Reputed to be in the $40M range.) The screenplay, not so much, but I admit they had a lot of ground to cover.

Part of Fletcher's stellar cast:
  • Taron Egerton (the "Kingsman" franchise) is Reggie, soon to be Elton. I've seen him in several movies but never suspected the extent of his talent (he sings Elton John's music; I love "Pinball Wizard.") and does a great job showing us the ups and downs of super stardom.
  • Matthew Illesley and Kit Conner play young Reggie (before he became Elton). You will love his audition at the Royal Academy of Music.
  • Bryce Dallas Howard ("Jurassic World") is his mother Sheila, a woman who wants love on her own terms.
  • Gemma Jones (the "Bridget Jones" franchise) Ivy is the grandmother we all should have. She loves Reggie unconditionally and is his first, best fan.
  • Jamie Bell ("Donnybrook") Bernie Taupin was the collaborator who helped put Elton John on the map. The two of them collaborated successfully for years. Bernie loves American wide-open spaces and beautiful girls. He sings "Yellow Brick Road."
This R-rated musical has absolutely NO blowie uppie stuff, but plenty of sexual situations, alcohol, drugs (Hey! It's Elton John! Although he has been sober for over 30 years now.), profanity and outrageous costumes. We also get to watch the evolution of our hero's hairline, eyewear, footwear, jewelry, costumes, and stagecraft. This is Entertainment, NOT Art!

Any caveat? The dialogue. The sound is just fine, but without captions, most Americans won't be able to decipher what the characters are saying. Their British accents are unabashedly authentic and FAST! I intend to have the DVD anyway, so there will be no problem for me, but be advised...
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Take a peek:
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