Red Rocket is a witty, sweet, and oddly beautiful movie about a down-on-his-luck adult film star who heads back to Texas to get his life back on track. Turns out, he gets more than he bargained for on a whirlwind of crazy locals, ex-wives, and one new young girl he wants to make a star. A24 always does right, don't they? This Blu-ray comes with an excellent 1080p HD transfer, a wonderful DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track, and a couple of good extras. Highly Recommended!
Deep in its southern fried roots of Texas comes a new story from Sean Baker with Red Rocket that examines a turbulent series of events centered on an anti-hero who loves to fail and fails to love. With exquisite performances by mostly non-actors, wonderful cinematography of a small Texas town, and an energetic, darkly funny screenplay - Red Rocket is simply mesmerizing and a lot of fun as it navigates that razor-sharp line of the adult film industry. But leave it to Sean Baker, Simon Rex, and newcomer Suzanna Son to create a special and memorable film with fantastic characters.
Living in the current times of the Me-Too movements and recently coming off of the last presidential reign, Red Rocket could seem off-putting to some, especially with the porn industry being a major element in the movie. But as time has shown, the movie company A24 knows exactly how to create something that might seem taboo and make it wonderful viewing for the mainstream masses. Not only that, Sean Baker who burst on the scene with Tangerine and The Florida Project has perfectly created an unlikeable character in Mikey Saber (Simon Rex), who is oddly and immediately likable due to his charm, quick wit, and willingness to degrade himself to keep his life from falling into the bottom gutter.
The film takes its cues from the Italian erotic cinema landscape from the '60s ad '70s in its style and story as Mikey Saber (Rex) shows up in dirty clothes, no car, and only $22 to his name back on Lexi's (his ex-wife played by Bree Elrod) doorstep. His face is bruised and his arrival is most unwelcome as Lexi and her mother Lil thought they'd seen the last of Mikey when he left them high and dry in California for the porn industry. But after some fast-talking and kiss stealing like the Nature Boy Ric Flair, Mikey is allowed to stay in this corner of hell if he pays rent and does chores.
It's no doubt that Red Rocket has all the elements and bullet points of a rags-to-riches or even a comeback story written all over it, but that's never the case with the film or these characters. Although Mikey is incredibly charming, funny, and wonderful to watch work the rooms and people, his only care in the world is about himself and getting back to the world of porn, no matter who he has to use to get there. This is where his suitcase-pimp lifestyle comes into play as he meets the young Strawberry (Suzanna Son), who is working the donut counter in their local rural bayside town. The suit-case pimp lifestyle is only successful when a male porn star is able to find new, young, willing girls to join the adult film industry.
Through some severe manipulations, and maybe even a smidge of genuine kindness, Mikey and Strawberry develop a relationship as he persuades her to leave her boyfriend, job, and home to head back out to California and be a "star" in certain kinds of movies. But as the first scene of the film shows, Mikey fails and will fail at just about everything and anything. With drug dealers and ex-boyfriend's families out to get him, along with job willing to hire him due to his adult film resume, Mikey is completely on his own and must rely on his good looks and wit to convince anyone to give him a shot or a few dollars.
Simon Rex as Mickey Saber is purely brilliant. In no way is this character supposed to be redeemable or likable. The way he uses people and treats others constantly has ulterior motives for his benefit. Nobody in his life is buying his stories except for his lazy next-door neighbor, who is doing nothing with his life. But due to Saber's utter consistent confidence, humor, and ability to make anyone smile when he talks, keep him a step above most - including the young Strawberry who is hanging on his every word. Suzanna Son in her first role is such a grand debut that there is no doubt her name will be etched in gold on awards someday soon. Her charm and innocence that are mixed with her uninhibited curiosity of the sex world are magnificent. Not to mention her rendition of N'sync's "Bye, Bye, Bye" is one for the record books. Red Rocket is a sweet film that is drenched in the gooey world of manipulation and narcissism of one man's plight to make it again in the adult film world. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION!
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Red Rocket fluffs its way to Blu-ray from A24 with a single Blu-ray Disc + Digital Code. The disc is housed inside a hard, blue plastic case with a cardboard sleeve. The artwork is that already iconic illustration of the main character naked with a giant pink donut around him.
Red Rocket comes with a fantastic-looking 1080p HD transfer with an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 from A24. The film was shot completely on 16mm and finished in 4K, making for a beautiful looking image that takes place seaside in Texas.
With the 16mm element, the movie encapsulates its own amazing layer of grain and depth that rounds out this excellent image. The color palette is ripe with bright primary colors when filming on location outside in the town. The blue skies, green grass, and more neutral tone housing look wonderful. Inside the houses, the colors seem to be a little dourer and muted. At the donut shop and with the Strawberry character, bright colors of red, pink, and yellow are pop brightly.
The detail is sharp and vivid as well, revealing great closeups that show individual facial stubble, hairs, bruises, makeup effects, and textures in the wardrobe. Wider shots of the donuts and vehicles all have the necessary textures as well. Black levels at night and inside dark houses look inky and deep, and never have bleeding or murky shadows. Skin tones are also natural. There are no instances of any aliasing, banding, or noise, but the grain does creep up in the low-lit scenes, which is a stylistic choice and from its source material.
This release comes with a good DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track that captures the noises of a small industrial Texas town by the water wonderfully. There really aren't any explosions, gunshots, or vehicle chases here, so don't expect any action moments in the form of noises. But, the ambient sounds of stores, small businesses, and a quaint donut shop sound fantastic.
A scene at a strip club and when inside a vehicle with the windows rolled down, the sound design kicks into a higher gear with some low-end of bass. Rear speakers provide some background noises of people talking and cars passing by. The score and song choice always add to the tone of the film and the dialogue is clean, clear, and easy to follow, free of any audio problems.
Bonus materials are a little slim with only a short Making-Of extra, but there are two audio commentary tracks that are worth listening to for fans of the movie. In the commentary track by the filmmakers, they make mention that there was a ton of footage not used that was comically improved by the characters. It would have been nice to see those moments in some deleted scenes.
Red Rocket is a beautifully funny, and oddly endearing movie about an anti-hero who only thinks about himself. With some excellent performances, a fantastic script, and an amazing-looking backdrop of a Texas town, it's easy to. see why this movie has won so many awards. This Blu-ray from A24 comes with two solid audio commentary tracks, and making-of-featurette, and a great video and audio presentation. Highly Recommended!