Unassuming and honest, Red Rocket offers a slice of small-town life with a couple of enticing gimmicks. Drugs and sex are enough to lure even the wariest of viewers to this indie dramedy. And please do look past the indie visuals as this movie is so much better than that. The script is snappy and realistic keeping you engaged even though there’s not much going on here. However, that doesn’t mean that this story won’t intrigue or make you think. This is above all, a human story, a story about all of us. And I think we will find bits and pieces of our own personalities in different characters.
Just like in real life, there are no morals or some profound conclusions you can draw from this story. I mean, I’m sure there are it’s just they’re entirely left up to the viewer. Red Rocket is not going to cram a narrative down your throat and tell you how to feel. It’s here to tell a story of an aging and down-on-his-luck porn star returning to his small hometown. A town where nothing much happens. If you ever lived in such a town, and I have, you will recognize immediately all the vibes. And it really doesn’t matter where this small town is located, they are all the same.
So, Red Rocket could be happening in Germany, France or Russia and the story would be essentially the same. Sam Baker has a knack for telling these universal but also very American stories. Just check out some of his previous movies like The Florida Project or Tangerine. Red Rocket is driven by one man’s performance and that man is Simon Rex.
Now Simon did do a couple of porn videos although he was never a star. Here, he was the embodiment of that driven, vibrant, and charming guy who you know is going somewhere. That somewhere might be the gutter but hey, at least he’s going places.
Mikey just arrived in his hometown of Texas City after 17 long years. He’s been away in California and made quite a name for himself as a porn actor. Broke and without any friends, he decides to visit his old girlfriend Lexi and try to get back on his feet. However, that will not go as smoothly as he thought it would.
The star of Red Rocket is Simon but Bree Elrod as Lexi and Suzanna Son as Strawberry were just as good. If not better. Who fucking knew that Suzanna Son, playing 17-year-old Raylee AKA Strawberry is actually 28 years old! I mean, I wouldn’t guess that in a million years. Additionally, Simon Rex is freaking 47 years old and still looks good as fuck. The rest of the cast is comprised of mostly non-actors who did a terrific job. Even when you could see they’re not professionals that contributed to this quirky and authentic atmosphere.
I would also like to add that I like this new trend of showing dicks in movies and television shows. Euphoria was the first than The Righteous Gemstones and now Red Rocket is also one of those male full-frontal nudity movies. I think they’re trying to balance out all the eighties and nineties movies. If you would like to know more about this, I recommend you check out the documentary Some Nudity Required.
Finally, I have to mention Nightmare Alley, another weird and quirky movie following a man desperate to start over. Both of the movies even open with the same iconic scene of our protagonist on a bus. And while del Toro’s movie is a much darker and stylized version of the same events, Red Rocket is just a better all-around movie. I mean, we all know someone in real life who’s like Mikey. Mostly because they talk and interact so much with people. And they’re so charming that it’s like they put a spell on you.
However, life seems brighter and just more fun with them. They bring that spark into every conversation or event. And I know it’s because they’re so driven and always looking for an angle but still…
Director: Sean Baker
Writers: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch
Cast: Simon Rex, Bree Elrod, Suzanna Son, Brenda Deiss, Brittney Rodriguez, Ethan Darbone
Fun Facts: During filming of the fight scene in the Donut Hole parking lot, passersby called the police multiple times.