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Sean Baker
Simon Rex, Bree Elrod, Suzanna Son
Writing Credits:
Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch

Mikey Saber is a washed-up porn star who returns to his small Texas hometown, not that anyone really wants him back.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 130 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 3/15/2022

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Sean Baker, Cinematographer Drew Daniels and Actor Simon Rex
• Audio Commentary with Critic Kat Ellinger
• “Making Red Rocket” Featurette
• Previews


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-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Red Rocket [Blu-Ray] (2021)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 5, 2022)

When a movie offers poster art that shows a naked man inside of a donut, one shouldn’t expect mainstream entertainment. Unsurprisingly, this means that 2021’s Red Rocket delivers a quirky character-based tale.

In the late 1990s, Mikey Sabre (Simon Rex) left his small Texas hometown to shoot for fame ias a porn star n Los Angeles. He enjoyed a good career but in 2016, he finds himself washed up and without prospects.

Without any idea what else to do, Mikey returns to Texas for the first time in years. There he reunites with estranged wife Lexi (Bree Elrod) in an attempt to pick up the pieces of his broken life, though matters complicate when he finds himself smitten with 17-year-old Strawberry (Suzanna Son).

That synopsis proves accurate, but it gives the impression of Rocket as a more serious film than the end product delivers. While not devoid of drama, Rocket prefers a lighter tone, one that leans toward a slightly skewed character project.

One definitely shouldn’t anticipate a particularly plot-heavy enterprise from Rocket, as it focuses on Mikey’s misadventures above all else. I do like that the film doesn’t try to make Mikey as a particularly redeemable character.

While he exhibits enough charm for the viewer to kinda sorta like him, Mikey also seems so self-serving and narcissistic that the audience can’t ever really embrace him. Not every movie needs a likable lead, so I appreciate that Rocket doesn’t attempt to plaster over Mikey’s flaws.

Unfortunately, Rocket becomes such a rambling enterprise that its potential positives tend to fall by the wayside. As noted, this largely becomes a quirky character comedy, and writer/director Sean Baker can’t find enough worthwhile content to fill the movie’s 130 minutes.

Really, Rocket seems like a film that would fare better at 100 minutes or so, though even that length might be more than it needs. A lot of the “story” feels redundant and repetitive, as the flick gives us the same concepts over and over without new insights or developments to add to them.

Baker tends to seem too enraptured by his characters, as he devotes too much time to largely extraneous roles. While these all connect to Mikey, a lot of them seem unnecessary in the bigger picture, and they slow down an already fairly aimless tale.

This tends to make Rocket seem one note, and the aforementioned essential absence of plot doesn’t help. Because we get a less than purposeful story of a less than purposeful character, we end up on tangents that come across as random and unneeded.

Most of the cast consists of either inexperienced or completely amateur actors. Baker employs this MO for his movies, as he likes the sense of verisimilitude these locals bring to the films.

And I do admit that the unstudied nature of so many Rocket performers brings a sense of realism that otherwise might not exist. Unfortunately, this gets dented by the fact so many of the amateurs simply can’t act.

For a prime example, look at Brenda Deiss as Lexi’s mother Lil. Deiss looks and feels like a real working-class Texan because the late Deiss was a real working-class Texan.

Though she fits the part in terms of her look and attitude, Deiss undercuts her scenes because she lacks acting talent. Her performance always feels stilted and she fails to deliver the lines in a believable manner.

Other amateurs in the cast fare better, but I can’t claim any of them offer convincing work. Despite the verisimilitude they bring, they always seem self-conscious and not natural with their turns.

At times, Rocket threatens to become a good character study, but the film simply lacks the coherence it needs to go anywhere. The end result feels too long and too aimless.

The Disc Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Red Rocket appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Shot mainly on 16mm, Rocket suffered from the stock’s limitations.

Many of the concerns stemmed from iffy definition. Close-ups looked good, and most wider exteriors showed decent detail. However, these elements lacked great delineation and could veer toward the mushy side.

I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes failed to manifest themselves. Print flaws became a moderate issue, though, as periodic specks appeared.

In terms of colors, Rocket often opted for a mix of teal and amber/orange, though more natural tones popped up as well. These tended to look heavy and overdone, but they also seemed peppy at times.

Blacks were reasonably deep and dense, while shadows were acceptable. They could be a little murky, but that wasn’t a serious issue. Given lowered expectations that related to 16mm, this seemed like an adequate presentation.

Better results came from the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, as it used the spectrum in a fairly involving manner. Most of the material revolved around environmental information, with occasional snatches of music as well.

Though the film lacked ambition, it still featured appealing activity around the spectrum. Nothing dazzled but the soundscape opened up pretty well.

Audio quality worked fine. Dialogue felt reasonably natural and concise, without edginess or other issues.

Music showed nice range and impact, as the various songs and score packed a good sense of dynamics. Effects appeared accurate and tight. This turned into a fairly satisfying soundtrack for a character tale.

Two audio commentaries appear here, and the first comes from writer/director Sean Baker, cinematographer Drew Daniels and actor Simon Rex. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific view of inspirations and influences, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, editing, photography, effects, issues related to low budget and COVID and related topics.

Expect a solid commentary here, as the three participants offer an engaging view of the production. The track moves at a nice pace and covers an appropriate range of subjects in a comprehensive manner.

For the second commentary, we get a solo track from film critic Kat Ellinger. She presents a running, screen-specific discussion of some production elements but she mainly focuses on influences, context and interpretation.

In general, Ellinger offers some useful views of the film, though I disagree on some points such as her view of what “White Male Privilege” means or what led to Donald Trump’s appeal in 2016. Nonetheless, we get a largely involving take on the project.

Making of Red Rocket runs 12 minutes, 15 seconds and includes notes from Baker, Rex, and actors Bree Elrod and Suzanna Son.

“Making” looks at story/characters, cast and performances, the impact of COVID on the production, Baker’s work on the set, locations, and the low budget nature of the shoot. Inevitably, some of this repeats from the commentaries, but “Making” nonetheless offers a decent overview.

Under Also from A24, we find ads for C'mon C'mon, The Green Knight, Zola and The Florida Project. No trailer for Rocket appears here.

As a quirky character comedy, Red Rocket occasionally spurts to life. Unfortunately, too much of the movie lacks purpose and feels self-indulgent. The Blu-ray comes with acceptable picture and audio as well as some useful commentaries. Though not a bad movie, Rocket sputters too much of the time.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
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