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Rocketman, A Shaky Flight

In Uncategorized on August 25, 2019 at 16:48

Rocketman, A Shaky Flight

Elton john costume film
From themoviemylife.com

The film Rocketman doesn’t have enough dance numbers to call it a musical, and it is not chronological like a biopic. It’s an uneven mix of entertaining and dull scenes that leads to a Matinee rating.

One thing missing from Rocketman missing is a signature live performance. They discuss the concerts, but very little of the performances make it into the film other than an early show at The Troubadour in Los Angeles. The way they discuss his success isn’t artistic, it’s corporate. The film made sure we know he was worth millions, but they fail to give enough focus on his successful music. Instead of $$$, we could have listened to hits: Benny and the Jets, #1 in 1972, among 8 other #1 songs. There is also nearly nothing about the albums he put out, the titles, and the creative process. We just had to take it on faith that he could write good songs, and little about the process came through. On a personal note, I wanted more from Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, a classic double record with many a great songs, two of which appear in the film. 

The scenes of Elton John in group therapy (something that never happened in real life) that frame John’s story is interesting, but they didn’t fully utilize the idea. They start Elton (Reginald) as a young child, then suddenly he’s a teen, then a rock star. What happened to his adolescence? What happened in his college years? How did he meet his band mates? I know they had to pick and choose, but it seemed random and not thought out. 

Another issue is that John’s story came across as boring. Whether another director with a better script could have made it more compelling, I don’t know. Sure, the film shows he was a prodigy as a kid, and his parents didn’t love him, but I’ve seen that before. The power of being lonely and abandoned didn’t come through. 

Other than Bernie Taupin, no other characters in the film distinguished themselves. However, Taron Egerton (Kingsmen) is entertaining and credible as Elton John, and Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot) does a great Taupin. Their relationship is the highlight of the film. 

The film is well shot, the dialogue is often interesting and clever even if the plotting is uneven. The triumphant, cloying Hollywood victory at the end of the film is too much for me, but I am sure audiences love it just like they loved LA LA Land and Mama Mia!  

Rating: Matinee– If you are a huge Elton John fan, go see it. There are funny, touching moments in the film, but no revelations. The film is shallow, so I don’t feel more or less about the subject after the film.  

Side note: Why does no one talk about how his 1971 hit, Tiny Dancer, was much longer than the hits of the day at over six minutes like they go on and on about Bohemian Rhapsody (1975) and Light my Fire (1967) being too long for radio? Why the length of Tiny Dancer an issue? If so, I never heard about it.  

Tex Shelters