Australian Council on Children and the Media

Rocketman

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Short takes

Not suitable under 16, not recommended 16 – 17 due to language, drug use and sex scenes.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Rocketman
  • a review of Rocketman completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 17 June 2019.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children over the age of 13 Not suitable for children under the age of 15, and not recommended for 16 - 17 due to language, themes and sex scenes.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Rocketman
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Strong Coarse Language
Length 121 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Reggie Dwight (Matthew Illesley) was born into a loveless household. The one thing he craved most was his parents’ affection which he never really received. His mother (Bryce Dallas Howard) was self-absorbed while claiming to have his best interests at heart and his father (Steve Mackintosh) was disinterested and unaffectionate. His grandmother (Gemma Jones) was his closest supporter who recognized his musical talent and helped ensure that he got lessons which led to his scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music. But it was Reggie’s (played as an adult by Taron Egerton) innate talent, his ability to see the music that should accompany the lyrics, and his partnership with Bernie (Jamie Bell), a songwriter and his closest friend that got him noticed in the first place. The film follows the early, substance abusive, years of Elton John’s career and his relationship with his dreadful manager John (Richard Madden) who broke his heart and used him, pushing him to the edge on numerous occasions. Elton tells the story of his life to a group in rehab, and through the retelling 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.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Family breakdown, drug and alcohol abuse, homosexuality, suicide.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • There is a bar fight and a young Reggie throws a chair through a window.
  • A man is seen shoving a woman in an alley
  • In a fit of anger, Elton throws a bottle against the door shattering it as John leaves the room.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Here are some scenes of wild parties where people are wearing costumes or very little, including an orgy on a dance floor which could confuse or disturb children. There were lots of scantily clad bodies in underwear writhing on the floor and kissing each other in a tangle of arms and legs.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Reggie is devastated when he finds his mother having sex in a car with a man. The man is on top of the woman and the sounds they are making allude to what is happening inside the car although no nudity is visible in this scene. The act leads to his parents’ divorce which was heartbreaking for Reggie.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • As a young man, Reggie tries to kill himself with a combination of drugs, alcohol and then drowning himself in his pool. Some children may be concerned by the scenes of him being fished from the pool and taken, while going in and out of consciousness, to the hospital.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

It is unlikely that children over the age of thirteen would be frightened by anything in this film.

Product placement

Elton John songs are featured throughout the film. Tower Records is mentioned by name and The Troubadour club is featured in Los Angeles.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • “Don’t break your neck sucking on your own dick.”
  • “I have fucked everything that moves.”
  • Elton accuses John of shagging his secretary in front of the pool boy.
  • There are multiple comments about being a homosexual.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Numerous people, both men and women are shown in skimpy, revealing outfits.
  • A man is shown peeing in a bottle while travelling in the back of a van. His penis is not shown just the bottle he is capturing the urine in.
  • There is a dance scene where Elton is taken to the hospital and he appears to be nearly naked.
  • There are numerous sex scenes in the film including Elton’s mother having sex with a man in a car. The sex is implied and not explicitly shown.
  • Elton and John are shown kissing passionately, their naked bodies intertwined and then moving rhythmically before the scene cuts to them lying exhausted in each other’s arms.
  • Elton walks outside to find John having oral sex with his secretary. The man has his head in John’s lap while John looks extremely pleased. He straightens up when Elton approaches wipes his mouth and John zips up his pants while Elton starts yelling at him. No nudity is shown but the scene leaves little to the imagination.
  • There is a scene depicting an orgy on a dance floor in which numerous, scantily clad people, some in their underwear, are writhing on the floor to music while indiscriminately kissing and touching each other.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • There is frequent use of substances throughout the film including lots of drinking, smoking pot, snorting cocaine and the taking of prescription drugs. Elton openly admits that he has taken every kind of drug.
  • Elton tries to kill himself with a concoction of pills and alcohol and then tries to drown himself in a pool. Later he overdoses again.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • There is frequent coarse language throughout the film including multiple uses of the words: "Bitch,” “Fuck,” “Fucking,” Shitty,” “Shit,” “Fag,” “Poofter,” “Dick,” “Cunt,” and “Asshole.”

In a nutshell

Rocketman is a musical biopic about the early years of Elton John and his rise to stardom. Whilst some aspects of his rise to fame may appear glamorous (e.g., special treatment, private cars, adoring fans), scenes depicting things such as promiscuous sex and drug use appear less attractive and reflect Elton’s desperate need to find real love and happiness through adverse means. Hence, this is not a family film 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, so instead of finding a way to live without it you should find a way to love yourself, be true to yourself and live the best life that you possibly can.

Values in this movie that parents could discuss with their older children (16 - 17):

  • Teamwork
  • Honesty
  • Forgiveness
  • Resilience

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their older children (16 - 17) attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as.

  • Doing drugs
  • Trusting those that are only out to further their own interests
  • Following your dreams at any cost
  • Showing a lack of love and basic kindness to those that need it most.

 

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