My mom was a teenager when Elton John released Rocketman. I told my mom I watched the Rocketman biopic and she reminisced about Elton John and how his music had shaped her younger years. When I spoke to my mom about Elton John, she brought up his charity work for HIV / AIDS and how he was a personal friend to Princess Diana. This biopic focuses less on his charity work and more on his life story. I thought this was a fun, musical film. The soundtrack is pretty good too as I find myself listening to it while I work.
The film opens up with Elton (played by Taron Egerton) in addiction therapy wearing an orange horned costume. The film discusses Elton’s (birth name Reginald Dwight) home life with his absent father, stern mother, and lovely grandmother. Elton is a brilliant piano player, leading him to study at the Royal Academy of Music. Eventually, Elton is partnered with Bernie Taupin (played by Jamie Bell) who writes the music Elton plays. Elton like many musicians is thrown into the rock and roll scene by his manager John Reid (played by Richard Madden). Elton struggles with his sexuality, weight, and his home life which leads to him going to rehab.
I thought Taron Egerton did a fabulous job portraying Elton. Taron did do all of his own singing which was something Elton wanted for the actor who played him in the movie. Richard Madden is one of my favorite actors and he was ruthless in this movie. If you haven’t watched Bodyguard on Netflix, you absolutely need to. Bernie and Elton’s friendship is so special and it felt like Jamie and Taron had legitimate chemistry together.
This biopic does feel a bit more like a musical than other biopics I have watched. I found myself comparing this to Bohemian Rhapsody while watching the film. In Bohemian Rhapsody it was less of a musical, more of a serious film with the music playing in the background. In Rocketman, there are choreographed musical routines especially towards the beginning of the film. I’m a bit picky with musicals, they are usually not my favorite genre to watch. However, I think Rocketman feels like an Elton John movie and it captures Elton’s flamboyant persona.
Towards the end of the film, words appear on screen detailing Elton’s life post-rehab. He has been sober for 28 years! He’s been sober longer than I have been alive. There is a brief description of Elton’s charity work with AIDS. The Elton John AIDS Foundation was established in 1992 with the end goal of ending the HIV epidemic. I remember watching an Oprah Winfrey interview with Elton as he talks about why he needed to change and why he’s passionate about HIV. He mentions the death of Ryan White, who was a teenager who died of the disease. Elton used his fame and fortune to help others and I think that’s something I wish Rocketman would have touched on more.
Rocketman was a fun film with a decent soundrack. Rocketman can be streamed on Hulu.