Film Review: ‘Red Rocket’

John Thomas

 It’s been 17 years since Mickey Davies (Simon Rex) left the shores of Galveston, Texas for Southern California with the dream of becoming a star in Hollywood. His present dream is to find a place to stay back in his hometown.

He has no visible baggage, only the clothes on his back, but lots of the former in his head from time spent out west. His handsome face and toned body are covered with bruises from the fight he was in that determined his return home.

It’s a long walk from the bus terminal to the shabby residence where his former wife, Lexi (Bree Elrod), and nearly toothless mother-in-law, Lil (Brenda Deiss) live.

Lexi finally answers Mickey’s pounding on the door, only to try to shut it again after seeing him. She says no to everything he offers to do for a brief stay – mow the lawn, do the dishes, go shopping, run errands and of course, sleep on the couch.

The answer is still no until he offers to contribute to the rent. He moves in. Soon after, he gets cleaned-up, shops for some clothes at a yard sale, and begins bicycling around town looking for work.

Dollar Tree is among the numerous businesses where he applies. The person interviewing him is not impressed with handsome face and fast-talking con artist ways. She also questions the 20-year gap in his résumé. He explains he was working in Hollywood as agent/film producer – nothing steady.

At another interview he explains that when in Hollywood, he was actually working in the adult entertainment field – as a porn star.

Regardless of the many awards and high ratings he claims his work received, the answer is still no – very No. Desperate for money, he decides to visit a former employer/marijuana dealer, Leonoria (Judy Hill). She wants nothing to do with him either, as she’s heard all his slick blather before.

Leonoria relents and gives his some weed, knowing he will likely use it himself. Returning some days later with money to buy more from her, she says okay, thus creating a working relationship that proves profitable for them both.

Mickey wants to celebrate his new income by inviting Lexi and Lil to a nearby doughnut shop where they may order whatever they want, he’s paying. All is good until Mickey sets his compelling blue eyes on the girl behind the counter, Raylee, aka Strawberry (Suzanna Son).

She is as taken with him as he is with her – never mind she is not quite 18 years old. They strike up a friendship and more. Strawberry eventually allows Mickey to sell dope to the many construction workers who frequent the shop.

Now he really is making money – enough to think about returning to his former life in California. As his savings pile up, he fantasizes taking Strawberry along with him to introduce her into the porn industry. She is enthusiastic about the move and the change of career. She, too, decides to say good-bye to Texas and head west.

Mickey makes plans to take his savings, collect Strawberry at her home, taxi to the bus terminal and then it’s off to Hollywood. Unfortunately Lexi hears of the plan.

Directed by Sean Baker (Credits: The Florida Project, Tangerine) this film runs 128 minutes and is a “see” but be cautioned, some scenes contain nudity, beginning with Mickey sleeping in the nude.



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