The first half is a blast. Following the model of Across the Universe, director Dexter Fletcher incorporates Elton John’s music into boffo biographical song and dance numbers (the movie takes the current model and reverses it; it is ready made for Broadway), and Taron Egerton is winning as our shy, brilliant, budding rock star. The depiction of his rise is light, whimsical and fun.
But the second half of the movie, much like the middle third of John’s life, is a bummer. The choreographed song and dance numbers give way to trippy, psychedelics that are not only a drag, but repetitive and tiring. John drinks, drugs, orgies, wears more and more ridiculous outfits and goes lower and lower, much like your eyelids.
It ends precocious, as John confronts his annoyingly minor demons (overbearing mother, distant father, not-as-advertised first lover) in a rehab group therapy.
Not quite where a film-goer wants to end up, even if it worked out for John.