Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard, Steven Mackintosh, Gemma Jones
OUR RATING: ★★★☆☆
Bio-fantasy musical directed by Dexter Fletcher. Rocketman is based on Elton John’s (Taron Egerton) beginnings, from his years as a prodigy at the Royal Academy of Music, to when he reached global stardom through his influential and enduring musical partnership with Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell).
Our Favorite Quote:
Elton John: [dressed in one of his flamboyant clothes] How long is this going to take?
Counselor: That’s really up to you.
Elton John: Alright, then. I know how this bit goes. My name is Elton Hercules John. And I’m an alcoholic. And a cocaine addict. And a sex addict. And a bulimic. Mostly shopaholic who has problems with weed, prescription drugs, and anger management.
Counselor: Why are you here now?
Elton John: Well, my dealer was out of town, I thought this seemed like a good alternative. I’m here because I want to get better.
Counselor: What were you like as a child, Elton?
Elton John: As a child?
[he starts to recount his life in flashback]
Elton John: So how does a fat boy from Pinner with glasses called Reggie Dwight get to be a song writer?
Wilson: Write some songs.
Wilson: I’m a skinny black kid from Detroit, whose real name is Rodney Jones. And I played roadside joints for ten years before I realized what I had to do.
Elton John: What, change your name?
Wilson: It’s not just your name. You got to kill the person you were born to be in order to become the person you want to be.
Elton John: Elton?
Elton Dean: Yeah?
Elton John: I’m thinking of changing my name.
Elton Dean: Yeah, great.
Elton John: I’m thinking of changing it to Elton Dean.
Elton Dean: But that’s my name.
Elton John: Yeah, I know. What do you think?
Elton Dean: I think, f*** off.
Elton John: Right.
Ray Williams: [after Elton has played a tune on the piano] That was good. I mean, it could do with some words.
Elton John: Yeah, that’s the part I struggle with.
Ray Williams: What’s it called?
Elton John: Oh, no, I just made that up.
Ray Williams: Just now? What did you say your name was again?
Elton John: Elton.
Ray Williams: Elton?
Elton John: Hm.
Ray Williams: Elton what?
Elton John: [looks over to a photo of John Lennon] John. Elton John.
Elton John: I read it and I could hear the whole tune in my head. It was all there, I could see all the notes, and I just had to get it out. It’s like my fingers couldn’t work fast enough to keep up with my brain. Do you ever get anything like that?
Bernie Taupin: Not really, no.
Elton John: My real name’s Reggie Dwight.
Bernie Taupin: Oh, cool. Yeah, it sounds like a cowboy name. Yeah, all I ever wanted to be was a cowboy, you see. Do you like country and western music?
Elton John: Yeah.
Bernie Taupin: Yeah, it’s good, ain’t it?
Bernie Taupin: [as Elton leans in to kiss Bernie] I love you, mate. I do, but not in that way.
Dick James: It’s time to do something bold, Elton. Granted, America’s a bit of a gamble. And you f*** it up and I’ll kill you. And Ray will go too. He’ll keep an eye on you. Buy yourself some new clothes. Something flashy. Let them know who you are. Put on a great f***ing show, and just don’t kill yourself with drugs. Yeah?
Elton John: Yeah, alright then.
John Reid: I know it seems a bit overwhelming at first, but something makes me think you’ll get used to it. And in fact, I predict you could be the best selling artist in America, if you desire.
Elton John: So you like the song then?
John Reid: Not quite as much as the singer.
John Reid: [to Elton] Look, I’m in music management, and let me tell you, there are moments in a rock star’s life that define who he is, and how people perceive him as he ascends into the heavens. You lit the blue touch paper. Now we can all see you shooting light, and color, and magic into the night sky. Where there was darkness, there is now you. Elton John. You can do anything you want. You can be anyone you want, and it’s going to be a wild ride.
Bernie Taupin: [as Elton is buying some platform shoes] Can you even play the piano in those?
Elton John: This is never going to last.
Bernie Taupin: I know. Let’s just enjoy it while we can, right?
Elton John: [over phone] Well, the thing is, I’m a homosexual. A poofter. A fairy. A queen. Well, say something!
Sheila: Oh, for God’s sake, I know that. Known for years.
Elton John: You don’t mind?
Sheila: Frankly, I don’t care. But I’d rather you keep that sort of thing to yourself. I just hope you realize you’re choosing a life of being alone forever. You’ll never be loved properly.
Elton John: [after coming out to Sheila] She said I’ll never be loved.
John Reid: [grabs Elton in anger] Don’t ever put me in this position again. You’re on stage in ten minutes. So get over yourself and do the show. We’re running a business here, you f***ing idiot.
John Reid: [as Elton shoves him, he smacks Elton in the face] Don’t ever put your hands on me.
Elton John: Real love is hard to come by. So you find a way to cope without it.
Bernie Taupin: It used to just be the two of us. Now there’s busloads of people just to do the music. Hang on, hang on, don’t you want to just go out there and sing without this ridiculous paraphernalia? You know, just be yourself, Reg?
Elton John: Why the f*** would I want that, Bernie? You know, you wouldn’t say this s**t to me if you were a real friend. People don’t pay to see Reginald Dwight. They pay to see Elton John! Don’t ever tell me how to do my f***ing job!
Elton John: Oh, write the f***ing lyrics, Bernie! Let me deal with the rest.
Elton John: [walks off in anger, pauses, then turns] Sorry.
Bernie Taupin: I know.
Elton John: Hello, mum.
Sheila: Elton, darling, you remember the Andersons from next door.
Elton John: Ah, yes! The Andersons. How can we forget the Andersons? Hello.
Mr. Anderson: Hello.
Mrs. Anderson: And what a shy, little boy you were. Look at you now.
Elton John: The problem is you have never understood me and what I have to go through. And you know what, I should’ve sacked you when you left me!
John Reid: I am glad I left you. It means I can maintain some objectivity in your self-indulgent, myopic little world. Get in the studio, make some music, or don’t. I don’t care.
Elton John: Well, you will when your money runs out.
John Reid: Do your worst. In fact, take me to court. You signed contracts with me years ago. So I’ll still be collecting my twenty percent long after you’ve killed yourself.
Elton John: Get out of my f***ing house!
Elton John: Renata didn’t deserve that. She was a good person. I dragged her into all my madness.
Counselor: Did being married make you happy?
Elton John: Not really. I’m gay.
Sheila: [to Elton] Ever since you first dangled your fat little legs in front of a piano, you’ve been lucky. You’ve never worked hard for a bloody thing in your life. It all just comes to you. You don’t do anything. And I’m the one who suffers. I should never have had children. Do you know how disappointing it is to be your mother?
Elton John: [talking in his counseling group] Maybe I should’ve tried to be more ordinary.
Elton John: [sees his grandmother] Hello, nan.
Ivy: You was never ordinary.
Sheila: Look at you. In here, talking about your feelings. What a waste of time.
Elton John: Mum, I know it was never easy. And I hope you can forgive me. Because I’ve realized that’s what we need to do now. Forgive each other.
John Reid: No, your problem is you’re selfish.
Elton John: No. My problem was I believed you loved me. And you’re incapable of it. I gave everything to keep something that I never even had in the first place.
Sheila: It’s all his father’s fault.
Stanley: Don’t blame me. He’d have been strange regardless.
Elton John: Actually, I think I’m okay with strange.
Elton John: Bernie. I never told you how much I need you.
Bernie Taupin: No, no, no. I love you, man. Always have, always will. You write songs that millions of people love, and that’s what’s important. You just need to remember who you are and be okay with it.
John Reid: He doesn’t know who he is.
Elton John: Yes, I do. I’m Elton Hercules John.
Young Reggie: I thought you were Reggie Dwight?
Elton John: I haven’t been Reggie Dwight for years.
Elton John: [Bernie visits him in rehab] Some days are tougher than others, but I feel good.
Bernie Taupin: They got a piano here? You’ve been playing?
Elton John: Hm. No.
Bernie Taupin: No?
Elton John: Not in the right place for that just now. I’m scared, Bernie. What if I’m not as good? Without the drink and drugs?
Bernie Taupin: [chuckles] You know that’s not true. You’re not scared you’re not good without it. You’re scared to feel again. You might be able to lie to yourself, but you can’t lie to me.
Bernie Taupin: I should be going.
Elton John: Don’t go. Not yet.
Bernie Taupin: [hands Elton an envelope] This is the part you got to do on your own. These need music.
Elton John: Thank you, Bernie.
Bernie Taupin: You’re my brother.