Rocketman isn’t just a biopic about Elton John – it also is a surreal musical fantasy, starring Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Eddie The Eagle), tracing the entertainer’s evolution from an awkward, lonely teenager to eccentric pop superstar.
With its spontaneous songs and intricately choreographed scenes, the film, while an entertaining crowd pleaser, often feels more like a corny Broadway play. The decision by director Dexter Fletcher (Bohemian Rhapsody) to inject the story with a quirky vibe mirroring John’s own larger-than-life personality is often brilliant, but several times – its opening number, in particular – it goes terribly off key. The film’s honest and unflinching inclusion of gay sex and drug abuse is commendable, and Egerton’s portrait of John is impressively spot on.
Unfortunately, other than revealing that John had a miserable childhood and a myriad of addictions (booze, drugs, sex, and shopping), we don’t learn a lot about him, other than an over exaggerated, villainous portrait of his first boyfriend/longtime manager John Reid (Richard Madden). The film’s more poignant moments are the quiet ones, where we discover John’s musical brilliance, his insecurities and his relationship with longtime friend/lyricist Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell). Had there been more of those moments, this good film could have been great.