Movie Review: ‘Rocketman’ Breathes Fantastical New Life Into Rock Star Biopics

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CREDIT: Paramount Pictures

Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Bryce Dallas Howard, Richard Madden

Director: Dexter Fletcher

Running Time: 121 Minutes

Rating: R for Fabulous Rock Star Indulgences

Release Date: May 31, 2019

Have you ever felt so exhilarated by a movie that you thought, “I never knew it was possible to get this high?” Presumably you have, as you care enough about cinema to read reviews by film buffs who are just as passionate as you are.  But you also, like me, might be worried that you will never experience this feeling again. When it comes, it’s often inspired by a really rousing song-and-dance number, and it seems like those are in short supply these days. Too many music biopics are satisfied with just touching on the nuts and bolts of rock stardom. But I don’t think that’s because they don’t want to capture the spirit of their subjects. It requires a tricky sort of alchemy to make a music movie that really sings, but somehow through the magic combination of Elton John’s discography, Taron Egerton’s cheeky and gleeful and tormented performance, and Dexter Fletcher’s go-for-broke direction, Rocketman has found the right formula.

It helps a great deal that it’s an actual musical. Biopics are often categorized by awards groups as musicals, but that’s often a misnomer, because the performance scenes are generally just that: performances. But in Rocketman, they are instead excuses for flights of fancy. As Egerton adroitly digs into the former Reginald Dwight’s oeuvre, he is buoyed along by sudden losses of gravity, stages that turn into whirlwinds, impromptu interpretive dances, and a general sense that anything could happen. This film is also a tale of triumphing over addiction, as it is framed around a group therapy session in which John recounts how he got to this crazy point in his life. You get the sense that while living alongside parents who never quite understood him, a manager who took advantage of him, and at least one loyal friend and partner who stuck beside him for decades, a corresponding world of chaos and ebullience was constantly bouncing around in his head. Rocketman has captured that part of his psyche marvelously, and it is now a decadent treat for the whole world to feast upon.

Rocketman is Recommended If You Like: The Elton John Songbook, All That Jazz

Grade: 4 out of 5 Feathered Outfits

This Is a Movie Review: A Dog’s Way Home

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CREDIT: James Dittiger/Sony Pictures

A Dog Way’s Home is about a mutt who would probably make it home a lot faster if she would just slow down and let someone help her. In fairness, not everyone Bella (voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard) encounters is particularly helpful, but she has a stubborn streak that ensures she is going to finish her journey on her own terms. But when she causes multiple accidents and gets herself hurt while trotting across six lanes of highway traffic, and then just walks off without anyone chasing after her (or is somehow able to outrun everybody), it starts to strain a little credulity. When movies like this slightly anthropomorphize dogs by giving them a human narrator, they come off as a mix of highly capable but also pitiable that feels somewhat uncanny valley-ish. That can be offset by leaning into goofiness, but A Dog’s Way Home is so earnest that it leaves me in a weird and unsettled emotional state, as opposed to a preferable combo of relieved and heartwarmed.

I give A Dog’s Way Home 2.5 Missing Dog Tags out of 5 Questionable Pit Bull Classifications.

This Is a Movie Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

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CREDIT: Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment, Inc.
and Legendary Pictures Productions, LLC.

I give Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom 3 out of 5 Eruptions: https://uinterview.com/reviews/movies/jurassic-world-fallen-kingdom-movie-review-dino-sequel-provides-action-with-surprising-drama/