Reggie Dwight (Matthew Illesley) is born into a loveless household. The one thing he craves most is his parents’ affection, but he never really gets it. Although Reggie’s mother (Bryce Dallas Howard) claims to have his best interests at heart, she’s very self-absorbed, and his father (Steve Mackintosh) is uninterested and unaffectionate. His grandmother (Gemma Jones) is his closest supporter and encourager. She recognises his musical talent and helps to ensure that he gets lessons, which leads to a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music.
It’s clear that Reggie, now Elton (played as an adult by Taron Egerton), has a special ability to see how music goes with lyrics. It’s this and his partnership with Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell), a songwriter and Elton’s closest friend, that gets Elton noticed.
Rocketman follows the early years of Elton John’s career, which are characterised by substance abuse and his relationship with his dreadful manager, John Reid (Richard Madden). John breaks Elton’s heart and uses him, pushing him to the edge on several occasions. Elton tells the story of his life to a rehab group. Through telling his story, he begins to heal the hurt that he has been holding onto his whole life. He faces the fear that he can never be loved, learns to love himself and eventually finds the love he has been searching for.
Family breakdown; drug and alcohol abuse; homosexuality; suicide
Rocketman has some violence. For example:
- There’s a bar fight, and a young Reggie throws a chair through a window.
- A man shoves a woman in an alley.
- In a fit of anger Elton throws a bottle against the door. The bottle shatters as John Reid leaves the room.
Rocketman has some sexual references. Some of these references include people making crude sexual remarks. For example:
- Elton accuses John Reid of having sex with his secretary in front of the pool boy.
- There are many comments about homosexuality.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Rocketman shows frequent use of substances. For example:
- Many scenes show people drinking, smoking pot, snorting cocaine and taking prescription drugs. Elton openly admits that he has taken every kind of drug.
- Elton tries to kill himself with a combination of pills and alcohol. Later he overdoses again.
Nudity and sexual activity
Rocketman has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- Men and women wear revealing outfits.
- A man urinates into a bottle while travelling in the back of a van. His penis isn’t shown.
- There is a dance scene where Elton is taken to the hospital. He appears to be almost naked.
- There are many sex scenes, including one scene that shows Elton’s mother having sex with a man in a car. The sex is implied and not explicitly shown.
- Elton and John Reid kiss passionately. Their naked bodies are intertwined and move rhythmically together, before the scene cuts to them lying exhausted in each other’s arms.
- Elton discovers John having oral sex with his secretary. No nudity is shown but the scene is quite graphic.
- There is a scene showing an orgy on a dance floor in which numerous, scantily clad people writhe on the floor to music while kissing and touching each other.
The following products are displayed or used in Rocketman: Elton John songs are featured throughout. Tower Records is mentioned by name and the Troubadour Club is featured in Los Angeles.
Rocketman has some strong coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Rocketman is a musical biopic about Elton John’s early years and rise to stardom. Some aspects of Elton’s rise to fame might appear glamorous – for example, special treatment, private cars and adoring fans. But the movie also has plenty of scenes showing things like promiscuous sex and drug use, which reflect Elton’s desperate need to find real love and happiness. Therefore this isn’t a family movie and will best be enjoyed by older, more mature audiences.
The main message from this movie is that real love is hard to come by. Instead of trying to live without it, you should try to love yourself, be true to yourself and live the best life that you possibly can.
Values in this movie that you could discuss with older teenagers include teamwork, honesty, forgiveness and resilience.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with older teenagers about real-life issues like:
- taking drugs
- trusting people who are motivated by self-interest
- following your dreams at any cost
- being unkind to people who need your love and care.