I think we could have all guessed at this stage that Rocketman was going to be an ideal contender for ‘Films to watch Drunk: The Good, Volume 2.’ When my boyfriend and I are drunk at home on a Saturday night, we have a passion for dancing around the kitchen to ‘I’m Still Standing’ at a volume that forces us to gleefully whisper ‘we are SUCH respectful neighbours‘ to each other, but I’m sure is actually making the walls upstairs vibrate.
Back in Exeter for the latest Bank Holiday Weekend, Daisy and I took the opportunity to catch the new Elton John biopic together, as she is also inclined to a touch of tequila induced screaming of ‘Rockeeeetmaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnnn‘ on a night out/night in. Any sort of night. Or day, for that matter. Our enthusiasm has no boundaries. We caught up over a couple of white wines before pocketing a few more supermarket miniatures and heading to our favourite: the Exeter Odeon.
After the kick back from people complaining that Bohemian Rhapsody wasn’t accurate enough, the marketing people for Rocketman have made the sensible decision to present this film as a fantasy imagining of Elton’s life. It’s also directed by Dexter Fletcher, he who directed a bit of Bo Rap, and stars Taron Egerton, he who previously starred as a Gorilla that sings Elton John in Sing. A promising start.
The film starts off so strong, with us meeting Elton in full tropicana feathered glory at an AA meeting, where his flashbacks build our journey through his life. We start with little Elton, gifted with a piano and brimming over with talent, before being paired up with song writer Bernie Taupin to begin creating the well known songs that soundtrack the story.
Presented much more like a musical than Bo-Rap, the early songs lift you up so high you’ll be practically out of your seat. It’s physically impossible not to toe tap to Saturday Night, with the other obvious highlights being the big hitters: the underwater fantastical version of Rocketman, and the closing I’m Still Standing being performed with enough gusto and camp choreography to bring a smile to the grumpiest face in the cinema.
Taron Egerton has the star power to carry the film easily enough, and the choice to have him sing with his own voice rather than mime to Elton’s makes his performance all the more genuine and endearing. Apparently Elton asked Taron not to base his performance too much on the pop superstar and to make it his own (that old gem), and though an alien from space could figure out who this film is about – he does manage to create a memorable, stand alone character.
It would be amiss not to mention the inevitably fabulous costume design by Julian Day, which I’m pretty sure will be heavily influencing festival outfits across Great Britain in Summer 2019. Being a basic bitch myself, I will personally be purchasing sparkly sunglasses for Glastonbury as soon as I finish writing this.
The film isn’t exactly ground breaking, but it gives you exactly what you want – a feel good, shiny, rollercoaster tale of one of the greatest living performers of our time…but not much more. I think I did shed a tear at one of the climactic moments, but I’m a woman 3 wines deep with a tendency to cry when she sees a cute dog in the street, so it doesn’t count for much. Formulaic I think would be a fair brush to tar this with, but I don’t mean it negatively.
Now this isn’t actually a bad thing because it’s a testament to Richard Madden’s acting prowess, but he was so evil I wished he would just FUCK OFF. In fact, all of the characters in this are a bit pantomime good or bad, with his parents especially being left with little to no character development, which leaves them feeling quite excessively awful.
Rocketman gives you exactly what you want from it, with the added bonus of an ASOS basket full of theatrical outfits within an hour of viewing.