Front Row at the Movies by Shirrel Rhoades

5/5 (1)

This new movie titled “Rocketman” is not about Kim Jong-un. Rather, it’s about the songwriter/singer responsible for the 1971 song of similar name. We’re talking about Elton John, of course.

As the lyrics go: “And I think it’s gonna be a long, long time. Till touch down brings me round again to find, I’m not the man they think I am at home. Oh no no no, I’m a rocketman!”

Born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, Sir Elton reinvented himself from being an unknown musical wannabe to a knighted singer who has sold more than 300 million records worldwide. It helped that he was a prodigy who sailed through the Royal Academy of Music, able to play back a four-page piece by Handel after hearing it one time.

At 15, Reggie was playing piano in a pub. Then he and his friends formed a band called Bluesology. Answering an ad for Liberty Records, he was given the chance to write music for lyrics submitted by another applicant, Bernie Taupin. That began a songwriting partnership that continues to this day.

Within six month the duo produced their first song – “Scarecrow” – and Reggie had changed his name and personality into a flashy, bespectacled performer known as Elton John.

Bernie Taupin: “Don’t you want to just sing without this ridiculous paraphernalia?”

Elton John: “People don’t pay to see Reg Dwight! They pay to see ELTON JOHN!”

Turned out to be true. With his outrageous costumes, odd glasses, gap between his teeth, transplanted red hair, falsetto voice, and one earring decorating his right ear, he became the most successful pop artist of the 1970s, and survived many fads to remain one of Britain’s most internationally acclaimed musicians.”

“Rocketman” chronicles this transformation and the musical partnership with Taupin. The so-called formative years of Elton John.

You can catch “Rocketman” at Tropic Cinema where the film’s rocking audiences this week.

This Elton John biopic spent almost two decades in development purgatory, shopped from studio to studio. John finally took the project to Paramount. It was a risky project, this being the first time a major Hollywood studio depicted a gay male sex scene on-screen.

Director Dexter Fletcher (he replaced Bryan Singer on “Bohemian Rhapsody”) picked Taron Egerton (“Kingsman: The Secret Service”) to portray Elton John, and Jamie Bell (“Billy Elliot,” “Fantastic Four”) to play Bernie Taupin.

Egerton is not quite as portly as the real Elton John but he captures the mannerisms and showmanship well enough to fill the bill. He wears the numerous eccentric-shaped glasses quite well.

Egerton himself performs the songs in this “musical fantasy.” He had previously appeared with John in “Kingsman: The Golden Circle.” And he sang John’s “I’m Still Standing” as Johnny the Gorilla in the animated musical “Sing.” As the audition for “Rocketman,” Egerton and his pal Elton John filmed themselves singing two of John’s songs.

Thus, the film was greenlighted. And the resulting soundtrack album contains 22 Elton John hits performed by the cast — plus a newly written song “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” that’s a duet by Egerton and John.

Quite a tribute.

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