See It at the Movies




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(Elton John biopic)

Dexter Fletcher, who had his hands in another biopic (Bohemian Rhapsody), takes the story of Elton John's up and down life and turns it into another winner. Stories of famous celebrities, especially musicians, seem to follow a specific pattern, and Rocketman does so to a point. Fletcher, however, knows how to mix fact with fantasy and also how to treat his beloved pop star with all his flaws, insecurities, successes and failures.

Taron Egerton is the perfect person to play Elton John. First, he's a Welshman. Second, he can sing, and third, boy, can he act.

The movie opens with the title character walking into a group therapy session in an outrageous red costume, complete with wings and horns, and talking about his childhood. John takes us back to his unhappy childhood, living with a cold, uncaring, distant father and self-centered mother. He is a shy boy, wounded by the lack of love in his father and putting all of his efforts into his piano playing. He changes his name from Reggie to Elton, writes songs with his partner Bernie (Jamie Bell) and moves from seedy bars to concert halls before traveling to America, where he becomes a major star.

He is madly in love with his manager, who uses and abuses their relationship. The only person who he seems to relate to is Bernie, and even that relationship doesn't work the way Elton wants it to. He is filled with self-doubt and feels, rightfully most of the time, that nobody really loves or cares for him. Dealing with his homosexuality is not easy for him. All this leads to drugs and booze and, finally, a major breakdown that leads to the rehab clinic and back to the therapy session, where he finally faces his demons, shedding his costume along the way.

Stay for the credits, where we finally learn how he has turned his life around (28 years sober), gained international recognition, married, adopted children, and dedicated his life to helping others.

Oh, yes! The songs!

If you are an Elton John fan, you will love the inclusion of so many of his songs. You learn how many of them were written during crucial times in his life and how the lyrics told so much about him. We came out of the theater with a new understanding of what "goodbye yellow brick road" meant. The songs are integrated into the story, some of it like we were watching a Broadway musical, with big production numbers and others fitting neatly into the scenes.

Rated R becomes of profanity, drug use and sex.


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