Sunday, May 26, 2024

Elton John’s “Rocketman” Movie Looks Like It Will Cause a Sensation at Cannes Film Festival if Details Are Worked Out


Paramount brought clips from Dexter Fletcher’s Elton John movie, “Rocketman” to New York tonight, at the Museum of Modern Art. The audience, I assure you, loved what they saw.

Star Taron Egerton came and read comments from Fletcher, who’s busy finishing the movie. Studio sources say they won’t be a locked print until early May. That will be right in time for Cannes, where the movie will either open or show within the first three days, according to sources. The studio is staying mum until details are sorted. But as I wrote yesterday, Sir Elton has kept May 13, 14, 16, and 17 open on his tour schedule. I’m also hearing he will perform one or two songs at the premiere party.

Egerton seems exactly right as Elton from the 70s and 80s. Jamie Bell plays Bernie Taupin. Other characters from the movie include Elton’s mum, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, Richard Madden as John Reid, Tate Donovan as Doug Weston, owner of the Troubadour in West L.A.

In the note Egerton read from Fletcher to the audience, the director sent a kind of warning: not everything will be completely factual. He was giving us notice about Elton’s debut at the Troubadour in 1970. The filmmakers have taken license and shown Elton playing “Crocodile Rock” at the 1970 gig, dressed in his Velvet Goldmine look. In fact, “Crocodile Rock” wouldn’t come for three more years. Neither would the outfit.

Fletcher’s note read: “But when we were shooting we loved the energy of the song for the scene and Elton gave us his bless to use artistic license, which as you’ll see we really went to town with.”

Once we’re past that speed bump, “Rocketman” feels like a happy hit. Richer looking than Fletcher’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” this film captures Elton’s giddy highs and lows, his incredible showmanship, and wild costumes. The music is what will sell the movie, though, not the details of the story. And you can see that Fletcher has staged dance numbers to go with Elton’s many hits, and they look like they soar.

Egerton told us after the screening that he spent three months learning the piano but “obviously you can only learn so much. I can play the opening to “Your Song” very well,” he conceded. “But the singing– that’s 100% us. I have no reservations telling you that.”

So get back, Honky Cat. I’m betting that the final “Rocketman” will have audiences singing and dancing in the aisles. Sir Elton’s had low points with drugs and shopping addictions, but you know it’s a story with a happy ending, and more smiles and laughs than any downers.

And PS — Egerton confirmed that Kiki Dee (played by an actress) does make an appearance. Now we can only sleep soundly!


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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