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Awfully Good: RocketMan

04.03.2013

RocketMan (1997)

Director: Stuart Gillard
Stars: Harland Williams, Beau Bridges, William Sadler

NASA sends the right man to prove there's no intelligent life on Mars.

If this column has taught us anything, it's that every movie, no matter how terrible, has its fans. We all have our guilty pleasures—those movies we're embarrassed to admit we love for whatever inexplicable reason. ROCKETMAN is that movie for me.


Jeffrey DeMunn could only look on in horror at how unbelievably lame the "Walking Dead" Season 3 finale was.

I recognize this is not a good film. I realize its level of humor is aimed at 8-10 year olds and that it comes to us from the director of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES III: TURTLES IN TIME. I know all of this, yet I still love it unabashedly. I can't help but laugh every time the main character farts in space, yells out "It wasn't me!" or gets mentally and physically bested by a monkey. So for all the other ROCKETMAN fans, if you're out there, this one's for you.


It's disturbing how much this kid looks like Mad Magazine cover boy Alfred E. Neuman.

Comedian Harland Williams, who you might recognize as Kenny from HALF-BAKED or the piss-drinking cop from DUMB AND DUMBER, gets the starring role here and I can honestly say he makes the most of it. Williams plays well-meaning weirdo Fred Randall, a brilliant computer engineer so socially inept and destructive that if he actually did work at NASA the Earth would probably be destroyed by now. Williams runs at 110% throughout the entire runtime—dropping jokes, weird faces and nonsensical non-sequiturs at light speed. It's a minor miracle that in spite of his stupidity and epileptic mannerisms you don't end up hating the character. He may be an idiot who ruins literally everything, but he's a likable idiot who ruins literally everything.


"Quick! Do your best Renée Zellweger impression!"

The filmmakers smartly surrounded Williams with a cast of "serious" actors to help ground the wackiness. There's GREEN MILE and "Walking Dead" star Jeffrey DeMunn as a humorless NASA boss who is the main reason the most unqualified human on the planet is the first man on Mars. Beau Bridges stars as the man responsible for the Apollo 13 disaster, who mentors Fred and gives him a special Presidential Bravery Coin, which the astronaut somehow manages to flush down the toilet almost immediately. And then there's naked tai chi master and Death himself William Sadler as mission commander Wild Bill Overbeck. Sadler is the perfect straight man to Williams and unwilling victim to Randall's stupidity. And seeing the tough guy roleplay as a small child and call Harland Williams "mommy" is pretty amazing when you think about it.


Edward Blurryhands was less interesting, but at least he could sleep on a waterbed without issue.

ROCKETMAN is a silly, minor film that I'm sure everyone involved with has completely forgotten about, but it's stuck with me over the last 15 years. (I quote "The flesh, it burns!" to an unsuspecting public on a regular basis.) There are so many one-liners and memorable moments it's impossible to list them all. From immaturity ("I'm 30 years old. I'm almost a full grown man!") to gross out gags (hemorrhoid cream…yum!) to random blurtings ("Sweet Alaskan asparagus tips!") to dead-on impressions (Williams' Cowardly Lion kills me) there's plenty to choose from. But the part that makes me giggle uncontrollably is the gassy spacesuit gag. Randall and Overbeck are forced to share oxygen through a tether as they walk on the surface of the Red Planet. Without warning, Randall begins to feel tummy pains and soon his suit is filled with gas. The commander can only watch in abject horror as the rancid methane visibly travels through the connecting cord and into his own suit. As their NASA co-workers crack up back in Houston, Randall still has the gall to deny ownership. ("What do you mean 'It wasn't you?' We're 35 million miles from the nearest person!") It takes a lot to make a purely visual fart joke, but this movie has the intestinal fortitude to just go for it.


"Is there any other kind of Pootie?"

So go ahead, Elton John. You can make your biopic and title it ROCKET MAN. But your life story will pale in comparison to that of American hero and astronaut Fred Z. Randall.

Fred suffers a breakdown in communication ("Brazilian Donkey!") and takes advantage of being the first person on Mars.

One of the best fart jokes ever, a dramatic rescue and a fight involving a monkey. What more could you ask for in life?

Even the chimp wears a spacesuit.


"I'll enter the same calculations using what we like to call The Right Way." Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:
  • Fred says, "It wasn't me!"
  • Fred says, "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt!"
  • Burning flesh is mentioned
  • Fred fights with a chimp or makes monkey noises
Double shot if:
  • Fred leads the entire world's populace in a singalong to "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands"

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Source: JoBlo.com

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1:55AM on 04/03/2013
Hahahah, Edward Blurryhand. Priceless.
Hahahah, Edward Blurryhand. Priceless.
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2:34AM on 04/03/2013
In an article that is trying to convince me how good the movie RocketMan is, i can only shake my head at a crack at The Walking Dead.
In an article that is trying to convince me how good the movie RocketMan is, i can only shake my head at a crack at The Walking Dead.
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-17
3:14AM on 04/03/2013

Nope.

Nothing about this movie is awesome...it has Harland Williams in it, and he is the very definition of an IDIOT.
Nothing about this movie is awesome...it has Harland Williams in it, and he is the very definition of an IDIOT.
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1:01AM on 05/08/2013
I am merely testing the reply function.
I am merely testing the reply function.
3:37AM on 04/03/2013
So I'm not the only person in the world who loves this movie, after all! I'm trying to think of my favorite bit, and I just can't. Every second of this movie makes me crack up just thinking about it.
So I'm not the only person in the world who loves this movie, after all! I'm trying to think of my favorite bit, and I just can't. Every second of this movie makes me crack up just thinking about it.
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+10
7:30AM on 04/03/2013

Little Dr. Zauis!

Thank you thank you THANK YOU for doing this film Jason! I think there has been no finer film made on this earth! Every actor plays their part to the T. The exchanges between Harland and Sadler are incredibly hilarious.

Yes, I know this film is 'silly' .. but I've seen this film about a dozen times and will never tire of it. It's a masterpiece that never gets the praise its deserved. I believe the Wikipedia mentions how there's been a strong cult following since its release on DVD.
Thank you thank you THANK YOU for doing this film Jason! I think there has been no finer film made on this earth! Every actor plays their part to the T. The exchanges between Harland and Sadler are incredibly hilarious.

Yes, I know this film is 'silly' .. but I've seen this film about a dozen times and will never tire of it. It's a masterpiece that never gets the praise its deserved. I believe the Wikipedia mentions how there's been a strong cult following since its release on DVD.
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12:32AM on 04/04/2013
One of my favorites as a kid!!
One of my favorites as a kid!!
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7:03AM on 04/04/2013

It's because the tone is so serious

I actually think I liked the movie more than you did. What impressed me about the movie is that Fred Z. Randall is NOT an incompetent Pauli Shore type: he actually knew what he was doing, much to the dismay of the people around him who found him irritating. He was not "the most unqualified human on the planet" but rather the only person on the planet qualified to take over when Gary Hackman, the computer specialist originally chosen for the mission, takes a fall and winds up in the hospital.
I actually think I liked the movie more than you did. What impressed me about the movie is that Fred Z. Randall is NOT an incompetent Pauli Shore type: he actually knew what he was doing, much to the dismay of the people around him who found him irritating. He was not "the most unqualified human on the planet" but rather the only person on the planet qualified to take over when Gary Hackman, the computer specialist originally chosen for the mission, takes a fall and winds up in the hospital. Okay, granted, in retrospect, it is a bit of a stretch to believe that none of the people in mission control could have taken the third seat on the mission but there would have been the same problem of replacing an astronaut with someone who had had less training. In real life, NASA probably trains twice as many astronauts as they actually need for a mission precisely so they don't have to train someone new with days to go before launch. Or they did I should say, back when they were still doing manned missions. Anyway, the point is that everybody in the movie says everything with a straight face so of course you believe it. It's much more believable than Armageddon which was a serious movie about oil rig workers going into space!

NEXT: Get Smart with Steve Carrell. Steve Carell's Maxwell Smart was a similar character: very, very qualified for his job but not experienced with field work Again, it worked because the tone was so serious. It was better than the Johnny English or Austin Powers movies.
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12:14PM on 04/04/2013

Red Frandall, Fred Randall

Still makes me laugh. Harland Williams usually works better in small doses but he nailed it in this movie. William Sadler was a great straight man to counter the goofiness. This is one of those movies that when I stumble upon it while flipping channels I'll stop and watch and can still quote of few of the lines here and there.
Still makes me laugh. Harland Williams usually works better in small doses but he nailed it in this movie. William Sadler was a great straight man to counter the goofiness. This is one of those movies that when I stumble upon it while flipping channels I'll stop and watch and can still quote of few of the lines here and there.
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9:30PM on 05/18/2013

awesome

I know a guy who worked on building the sets for Rocketman, as well as being the paramedic on site. I have photos of the sets being built and the t-shirt & actor chairs with their names on it with the original title "Space Cadet" :)
I know a guy who worked on building the sets for Rocketman, as well as being the paramedic on site. I have photos of the sets being built and the t-shirt & actor chairs with their names on it with the original title "Space Cadet" :)
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4:57PM on 09/16/2013

Wow

I am astonished people still talk about this film, that is truly awesome. I played young Fred all those years ago, or the Alfred E Newman lookalike (lol). Cool to see this film making people happy, much love!
I am astonished people still talk about this film, that is truly awesome. I played young Fred all those years ago, or the Alfred E Newman lookalike (lol). Cool to see this film making people happy, much love!
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