The Beatles was my introduction in the world of rock ‘n’ roll, but Elton John is what kept me there. ‘Bennie and The Jets’ was my jam and when I was lucky enough to be cast in the touring company of the hit Broadway musical ‘Tommy’ where hearing ‘Pinball Wizard on a daily basis was a dream come true! His outrageous costumes and campy concerts were epic, yet one surmises this was a man trying desperately to escape into a persona because embracing Reginald Dwight was too painful. Reginald Dwight (Elton John’s legal name) was a musical prodigy, gay and had a very complicated relationship with his family. His grandmother, his personal angel, made all the difference and she was the one who encouraged piano lessons. The rest was literally history.
When Rocketman opens with this singer in full costume revealing himself in therapy, you know you are about to go on a ride of epic proportions into the ’70’s looking into the unapologetic, candid life of Sir Elton John.
With a screenplay by Lee Hall, John’s personal is stripped right down to his skivvies allowing the audience into the life of a childhood prodigy spending his entire existence searching for love and understanding from his parents, lovers and complete strangers. It would take a lifetime to learn that the love comes from within and when that happens, life becomes so much easier to endure.
Clearly poised as the next big musical on celluloid to hit the bright lights of Broadway, the intentional bob and weaving of the lyrics and songs into the narrative gives this fantastical journey a tempo that keeps you riveted from the first note to the last. The music literally becomes its own character as a narrator especially with hits like ‘Your Song,’ ‘Saturday Nights Alright For Fighting,’ ‘Crocodile Rock,’ ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me,’ and ‘I’m Still Standing‘ which seems appropriately deemed as the rock icon’s anthem. Directed by Dexter Fletcher, I appreciated the unique manner he chose to illustrate the passage of time through a series concert performances and costumes in a very similar manner to what Baz Luhrmann achieved with ‘Moulin Rouge.’
Let’s chat about those costumes designed by Julian Day, which were exact replicas of the originals in all their sparkly rainbow glory. Their were fabulous! Speaking of fabulous, Taron Egerton embodies Elton John so completely you forget for a moment you aren’t watching the real thing. Unlike Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody, Egerton is doing his own vocals — splendidly I might add. Bryce Dallas Howard (Shelia) as his mother is chilly, charming and acerbic. Her performance and the mastering of the accent was everything!
Produced by Paramount Pictures, Rocketman will leave you bouncing, singing in the aisles, dancing back to your car, the train or the bus smiling over the nostalgic musical journey of Elton John.