The Later Reviewer: Rocketman

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February 23, 2020- by Steven E. Greer

Rocketman did not earn very much at the box office for a few reasons. Only Marvel Comics movies really drag people to the unpleasant theater experience. Also, it was perceived as a gay musical, which it is, literally. However, I found it quite enjoyable.

Rocketman is a musical that focus on Elton John’s childhood as Reginald Dwight and then his pop-rock-star career as Elton John. Unlike Bohemian Rhapsody, which dodged the gay sex life of Freddie Mercury, Rocketman dives right in and dwells on Elton’s flamboyant dalliances. It is central to the plot about addiction and recovery.

The director, Dexter Fletcher, and writer, Lee Hall, smartly realized that audiences wanted to hear Elton John hits. Making this a musical was a good choice. Unlike La La Land, with bad songs, the Elton songs entertain.

Taron Egerton did a great job portraying Sir Elton. His own voice was used for each song.

The rest of the casting was executed well too. Jamie Bell played Bernie Taupin who wrote, and still writes, the lyrics for Elton. Their new song made for the film won the Academy Award Best Original Song.

Richard Madden of Game of Thrones fame played John Reid, Elton’s boyfriend and manager. Their bad relationship during the heyday of cocaine rock and roll was the downfall of Elton until he gained sobriety.

It is interesting to me as a fan of rock and roll how many of these icons had very similar stories. They were all born around 1945 in England as the war ended. Their mothers were floozies and fathers absent. This is the story of Elton, Roger Waters, Pete Townshend, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and so on.

Somehow, the British culture and good educational system promoted music throughout the war. Elton was a classically trained pianist. Townshend came from a family of professional musicians, as did one of their managers, Kit Lambert. That is how Tommy the opera was made. Kit’s father was the conductor of the Royal ballet. These rock and rollers had serious musical roots.

I tried to make a documentary about all of this, focusing on the earliest days of rock and roll around 1962 (of course, 10-years earlier rock and roll really started with Elvis and others). I met with an Academy Award nominated Hollywood director, but he lacked the clout to get any studio to bite. Maybe someday I will do it.

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