Mikey Saber (Simon Rex) travels by bus back to his hometown in Texas City with only $22 in his wallet. Freshly arrived in town, he knocks on the door to his wife’s house, Lexi (Bree Elrod), who lives with her mother. Covered in bruises and scars resulting from getting into recent trouble, Mikey comes crawling home desperate for a chance to restart his life. He makes big promises of helping around the home, promising that if he can get a room and a roof over his head, he’ll get straight with his life, start earning money and become the man he should have always been.
With determination under his belt, he begins seeking work around the community. Sadly, due to working as a porn-star for the last seventeen years, he has limited experience, and Mikey is rejected no matter his pitch and passion. Soon Mikey finds himself falling back into some of his old habits and decides to make it big by dealing drugs. While things start looking up for Mikey as he earns good money, his eyes and attention are soon caught by a seventeen-year-old girl who works at the local doughnut shop. Her name is Raylee, but everyone calls her Strawberry (played by Suzanna Son).
Red Rocket is best classed as a dark comedy with moments that will shock audiences with its humour. The film also includes high volumes of nudity and foul language (and lots of bike riding). It doesn’t take long while watching this film to discover the biggest and best feature is the performance of actor Simon Rex who plays Mikey. I feel Simon Rex delivers his best role to the big screen in this performance. Filled with energy, funny quirks, and great line delivery, the character he plays is extremely likeable even while he repeatedly makes poor or unwise choices. Audiences will also find themselves cheering the lead on to get his life back on track and curious to see the outcomes to his choices.
The script is fun and solid. Every bit of dialogue that is spoken here feels believable, raw and at times, like the leading character, very witty. The dialogue is generally fast-paced, and many interactions between characters are also unpredictable, including the outcomes. For the most part, the pacing is fairly on point, with a few creative shots and moments that feel slightly unnecessary and add to the lengthy runtime.
As stated above, the film contained sex scenes, which did make me feel uncomfortable, especially when they included a character who is only seventeen years of age. Again, while I understand what the film was attempting to deliver, these types of scenes felt somewhat unnecessary to the plot. Due to the crudeness and shock value on the screen, viewers will either feel highly entertained, dirty inside or perhaps even a little guilty for the general experience of this film. The ending had vague moments and relied on the viewer’s interpretation of certain aspects. I found this slightly annoying, especially when the film does such a great job at building up many tense moments and dramatic situations, leading to a fun and ideally wild finale.
Overall, this is a fun and unexpected film by director Sean Baker. With a solid script and witty dialogue, Red Rocket is wild and waggish right from the start. Leading actor Simon Rex shines and is delightfully hilarious for the entire runtime. Even when the lead character makes poor or unwise choices, he’s still highly likeable, and again, that’s a credit to Simon Rex. Red Rocket is a comedy that will either leave you feeling shocked or successfully make you feel somewhat guilty or dirty inside. I certainly felt all these emotions, and I can’t deny some moments were uncomfortable to watch. As a dark comedy, there are many movie lovers who I’m sure will enjoy this film like a tasty warm doughnut with pink frosting.