Movie review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Rocketman Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Glittery, glam rock musical soars; expect sex and drugs.
  • R
  • 2019
  • 121 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 45 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 63 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Uplifting portrait of man whose talent, hard work give him fame and material success but who ultimately finds happiness through deep connections with others -- e.g., John's relationship with lyricist Bernie Taupin. Scenes in which the two work together fruitfully or disagree and then apologize sweetly send strong messages of teamwork, compassion. A character depicted as unkind, selfish sends mixed messages about masculinity, telling a young boy who wants a hug not to be "soft." 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Elton John emerges as a man who's made many mistakes but atones for them, tries to treat those around him with dignity, respect. One powerful scene shows him feuding with Taupin, then humbly apologizing. Another displays power of acceptance: John tries to kiss his friend, who isn't shocked or dismayed but says he loves John, just not that way; the two stay firm friends. John's sexual identity is affirmed in scenes in which he's openly, confidently attracted to, attached to other men. John's parents are depicted as mostly uninterested in him, occasionally cruel, but he maintains a (fraught) relationship with his mother, demonstrating value in even sometimes uncomfortable family ties.  


In one scene, a miserable John washes a handful of (unnamed) pills down with vodka and then stands on a diving board, declaring he's going to "f---ing kill himself" before falling into the water. A couple often argues violently; during one spat, one man hits another in the face, leaving bruises. 


Sex scenes are frank and realistic: A couple kisses passionately before lying down in bed together to feverishly shuck their clothing. One man is shown atop the other, moving rhythmically, before camera cuts away to them looking satisfied, tired. A character suddenly stands up from where he'd been, on his knees in front of another man, who then zips up his pants, implying that he'd been getting oral sex (which John refers to as "shagging"). 


Frequent swearing includes "s--t," "f--k," "f---ing," "a--hole," "c--t," "twat," "c--k," "pr--ks," "hell," and "bitch" (particularly when a song containing that word is sung). Also words connected with sexual orientation: "f-g," "poofter," "fairy," "queen." 


One of the purposes of a musical is to sell soundtracks; viewers who enjoy this movie may be interested. John's success is often depicted in material terms: fancy clothes, a palatial house, shoes and clothes galore. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many scenes depict drug use and drinking, with characters snorting cocaine, smoking pot, guzzling liquor. Substance abuse isn't glamorized; viewers see the damage that it does to those who indulge. John's various addictions are discussed frankly, and he's shown in the process of entering rehab (it's said that he's "28 years sober and counting" at film's end). Frequent smoking of cigarettes, cigars, and a pipe.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Rocketman is a musical biopic about the life and work of Elton John (Taron Egerton). It has plenty of mature content, but the overall tone is sweet and life-affirming, and John is portrayed as someone who has the trappings of fame and success but only finds true happiness through deep, authentic connections with other people. His addictions and flaws are addressed frankly; the movie begins with him admitting he's an alcoholic, a drug addict, a sex addict, and a shopaholic, and viewers see him indulging openly during the movie. (Ultimately, we learn that he's nearly three decades sober.) John is also a proud gay man, and the film doesn't shy away from showing that part of his life. Expect many scenes of flirtation, romance, and affection between men, as well as a frank sex scene that begins with men kissing passionately before falling into bed to pull of their clothes; they're briefly shown nude and moving rhythmically together. Some of the film's language is also connected to John's sexuality; at various points in the film he's called -- or calls himself -- "f-g," "poofter," "fairy," and "queen" (other salty terms include "s--t," "f--k," and more). Violence is minimal, but at one point a man hits his boyfriend in the face, leaving bruises, and a character washes down pills with vodka before standing on a diving board and declaring that he's going to kill himself. Many scenes show John snorting lines of cocaine and drinking heavily; he appears sloppy and out of it, and the people in his life criticize his use. Characters smoke cigarettes, cigars, and a pipe.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8, 10, and 13-year-old Written byDenise A. June 2, 2019

surprising amount of explicit sexual scenes

The more I think of this film (I saw it opening weekend) the more I love Elton John's music, and want to listen to his albums. But we're not taking th... Continue reading
Adult Written bylpetlock June 12, 2019

Too much sex and homosexual eroticism.

Very well done film even though some sensitive parents may find it inappropriate for younger kids. Bohemian Rhapsody was so much more tastefully done. The mus... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bySlytherinGrace June 8, 2019


Went to see this movie expecting extreme sex scenes from the reviews I had read. They're totally exaggerated. The first scene is between two men, one is to... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byStars in the sky May 26, 2020

Great story filled with funny and serious moments throughout Elton John’s life.

Rocketman was a beautifully told story of Elton John’s life. The movie included some inappropriate scenes, such as drug use, curse words, and sex. The movie in... Continue reading

What's the story?

Based on the life of Elton John (Taron Egerton), ROCKETMAN explores how a shy teenage piano prodigy grew into one of rock's most iconic acts. Viewers meet John when he's still Reggie Dwight, an underloved kid who desperately wants attention from his dismissive father (Steven Mackintosh) and disinterested mom (Bryce Dallas Howard). A scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music changes his fate, as does a fortuitous meeting with Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell), with whom the newly rock-renamed Elton John writes his most beloved hits. The path to stardom and true love is a bumpy one to be sure, but this musical showcases both the music and the man who made it. 

Is it any good?

Bursting with glitter, outsized emotions, and the sheer joy of music and a life well-lived, this glammy musical is the gorgeous biopic Elton John deserves. Delightfully trashing the staid rags-to-riches-to-decadence frame that most rock biographies favor, Rocketman takes more of a kaleidoscopic approach, gleefully mixing eras and placing musical numbers where they can best reveal something about John's life, rather than strictly sticking to when they were released. And, oh, what musical numbers! Though most rock biopics are built specifically to frame their subjects' musical output, that's also often where they go wrong, relegating deeply beloved hits to background noise or re-creating stage shows faithfully to blah effect. Rocketman gets it exquisitely right, transforming songs into eye-popping set pieces that practically vibrate with euphoria. For example, "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" starts with adolescent John shyly sitting behind a pub piano and explodes into the streets of London with lager louts, black-leather toughs on bikes, and a suddenly aged-up John playing carnival barker to a cadre of dancers. 

Best of all is the treatment given to "Crocodile Rock," the opening number for John's very first show in America. The jaded hipsters filling the SoCal club don't expect much from this weirdly dressed little guy they've never heard of -- but John's first thunderous piano chords get them stomping and screaming, until the "la la la" chorus lifts them all simultaneously into the air, John's legs floating skyward as he sings. It's a potent visual metaphor for anyone who's ever felt carried away by a favorite song and a transcendent moment in the movie. Thankfully, even in the non-musical scenes, the film still shines. Egerton has plenty of charisma and charm and puts across a story anyone can relate to: someone who never felt like he was enough gradually learning his worth. And, in stark contrast to many biographies of gay subjects, John's sexuality is neither denied nor glossed over, with scenes of frank and flirtatious sex and affection. Yet John's sex life isn't made the center of the action, either; that place is held by the platonic friends-for-life love story between John and longtime collaborator Taupin. A movie that faithfully re-creates the events of its subject's life, and also makes its audience feel the emotions? Now that's rock 'n' roll. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about biopics and who they're made by and for. Does it surprise you that Elton John himself was one of the executive producers on this project? Why do you think stars would want to make a movie about themselves? Are these movies made to appeal to existing fans or to everyone?

  • How does Rocketman depict drinking and drug use? Is substance use glamorized? Are there consequences for the characters? Why is that important?

  • The movie is based on real people and events, but not everything happened exactly the way it's depicted here. Why do you think filmmakers might choose to alter the facts in films that are based on true stories? How could you find out more about Elton John?

  • Perhaps the most important relationship depicted in this movie is the friendship and collaboration between John and Taupin. How does their relationship show teamwork and compassion? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

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