Red Rocket; Grade: B+
Red Rocket tells a story about a washed up porn star Mikey Saber (Simon Rex), whom took a bus all the way back to Texas. With only $22 in his name and a whole lot of begging: Mikey’s ex wife Lexi (Bree Elrod) brings him back in, as the only requirements would be to pay her $200 a week for rent. Mikey has trouble finding a real job, however somehow manages his way to get a hustle job as a weed dealer. One random day at a donut shop, Mikey locked into a cashier’s eyes, as suddenly he’s got the hots for her. Mikey will then take on a series of weird events, hoping to get himself out of this shithole town and make his way back to the spotlight as a porn star once again.
In an email from A24, Sean Baker made a note about what brought influence to make Red Rocket. Originally Sean Baker said he was bound to make a much grander film he’s been working on for two years, that was about to go into production Summer 2020. But because of the pain of the ass, that project would had to be put on hold for the time being. Sean Baker would have another opportunity to make a film, with a reasonable budget, and also can be made safely during the circumstances of the world for the time being. Sean Baker sole purpose in making Red Rocket would be shown in theaters, Baker has been known to be a strong advocate for theaters as thankfully for Red Rocket A24 was able to meet with Bakers demands of having Red Rocket as a theatrical release. I have a great amount of respect for Sean Baker not only as a film maker, but also one whom is strongly passionate about the movie theater experience especially… I can already tell he’s on the same boat as me, as he would live and die off the theaters, so big ups to him.
Red Rocket so happens to be one of my most anticipated films of 2021, all due to the return of film maker Sean Baker. Sean Baker has made some high quality films in the past, with limited budgets, and limited talent behind him, a fair amount of talent he brings in are first time actors on this broad scale. I consider Sean Baker to be one of the most underrated directors in cinema of today, there’s not a whole lot of directors whom can accomplish what Baker has accomplished with little at his disposable. I loved The Florida Project, I really enjoyed Starlet, and I liked Tangerine as I was hoping Red Rocket would do the same. I gotta say: Red Rocket is definitely a great gift from Santa, I loved this film.
The Cinematography yet again is terrific, it’s visually stunning as it did felt like early 2000’s cinema. As one whom traveled through a great amount of Texas just last month: I can tell you this is a very accurate portrayal of what one of these smaller towns of Texas looks like. A lot of land featuring many grass fields, some small shacks and of course some lovely houses, mom and pop oriented shops… You see a lot of this traveling around Texas, as Baker captures this terrifically as it’s visually eye candy yet again.
Sean Baker does it yet again with the cast as they were all terrific all around, I don’t know how Baker continues to bring outstanding performances from everyone even with barely any experience, but that truly highlights the man’s talent. Simon Rex whom was a likable childhood character from Scary Movie 3, delivers an unforgettable performance as this washed up porn star. The character Mikey Saber doesn’t disappoint as he’s thoroughly entertaining and extremely fascinating since he was introduced on screen.
In the beginning you feel bad for Mikey as he’s only got $22 in his name, can’t get an honest mans work as no one will hire him due to working in the porn industry, as you hope he can bounce back. As you come to know more about Mikey over the course of time… He’s honestly a scumbag, the more time spent with him in this story, the more progression is made as him being a really awful person. The man is a lousy companion and friend, on top of it all he doesn’t take any responsibility for his actions, he’s not grateful for the opportunities he has in front of him as he’s all about himself and that’s it. Still the more time you spend with Mikey: The more invested you’re into this character as you’re wondering if he’s able to get away with all he’s doing or will karma slowly catch up to him at some point?!
Bree Elrod who’s most known work happened to be a small part in Shutter Island, gives the industry something to talk about, as she delivered a really good performance as Mikey’s ex wife Lexi. Lexi knows Mikey is no good, as their time in the industry made their relationship fall apart as it really tainted Mikey’s well being as a person. Though Lexi takes him in due to guilt, Lexi however does at least attempt to try and see the good in Mikey, as she hopes him hitting rock bottom would help revive the man Lexi once loved as she hopes they can start all over. However Lexi knows she’s unsure to trust Mikey, as she already has experience of how low Mikey can get, so she does keep her eyes open and when he does slip up… He’s a goner for sure!
Suzana Son delivered a breakthrough performance in her feature debut, as I thought she was great in this film as Strawberry. Son and Rex’s chemistry was off the charts, they delivered some hilarious scenes followed by a hot and sexy romance that will turn on the audience. As far as the character Strawberry: I’m happy this character was fairly written, to where you can follow and understand her mentality as to why she would be flirting around with a man twice her age. She’s a young and naive woman, who has a type in older man and doesn’t see no wrong in hooking up with someone like Mikey, plus women like Strawberry as young as her can be easily manipulated by men like Mikey especially in this small town where small town folks don’t know better, while also Mikey having experience in the entertainment industry makes him skilled as a charmer as well as he knows more people in this small town would KILL to get out. I do see Suzana Son in future projects, Sean Baker sure knows how to bring in great unknown talent.
Red Rocket is a delightful well written story, that is certainly entertaining from start to finish. Steadily paced, yet your eyes and mind are so engaged in what goes on with this washed up porn star and his adventures. I really enjoyed the twist and turns this film takes, especially that wonderful finale that was extremely hilarious that’ll make you laugh out loud, plus it’s just a wonderful conclusion to a wonderful film.
The only real issues I have with Red Rocket would be some logic issues within some characters, especially when one character complains how the other is no good, yet they seem to have no problem showing them where they hide their cash and also don’t leave without notice?! Also one character staying silent about an important issue going on with his life… Why?! What has he done to you that makes you want to protect his image?!
Sean Baker once again delivers what he has delivered time and time again with his films: An Experience. He was definitely born to make movies, I’m so happy with Red Rocket and Baker’s return in cinema, as I can’t wait to see his next project in the future.
Overall, Red Rocket is a great film! I highly recommend checking this one out, do support Sean Baker and see this movie in a theater where it’s supposed to be seen. -Mitch Smietana