by Hans A. Carpenter
Release Date: June 2
Starring: Taron Egerton, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Jamie Bell
Mister Marquee Says: Meh
Rocketman tells the story of how a young Reggie Dwight (Taron Egerton) becomes superstar Elton John. It details his troubled personal relationships and descent into addiction, as well as the creation of John’s classic hits.
Rocketman can’t quite decide what it wants to be. A jukebox flick full of dance numbers and a celebration of the music, or a hard-hitting dive into Elton John’s life? It attempts to do both, and mostly succeeds. Mostly.
There is a certain degree of cheese that’s hard to overlook. Within the first few minutes, Elton is at an AA meeting where he glances to the side to see his younger self. Those kind of corny tropes abound as we explore John’s troubled life. Epic musical dance numbers break out, and normally that wouldn’t work, but this is an Elton John movie so its apropos. Still, the gleeful musical numbers clash at times with the dramatic tone Dexter Fletcher is trying to achieve for John’s life story.
Still, there are genuinely exciting musical numbers and genuinely moving dramatic moments. The glue that holds these two halves together is Taron Egerton, who is utterly fantastic not only at impersonating John but also bringing an undeniable charisma to the role that works in equal parts for emotional breakdowns and flamboyant musical performances. He single-handedly heats up a lukewarm, paint-by-numbers rock biopic script.
The rash of rock biopics lately feels indistinguishable from one another, the same can be said for the jukebox musicals. Rocketman at least tries to combine the best of both worlds, and uses the AA meeting as a solid framing device to tell John’s story. It is definitely better than the criminally overrated Bohemian Rhapsody, but perfect by no means. Egerton’s tour de farce is enough to make this a very entertaining ride and a worthy watch. Fans of Elton will get extra mileage.