Red Rocket

There’s a magnificently intriguing element that snakes its way through every one of Sean Baker’s films. From 2012’s Starlet, to 2015’s Tangerine, and then 2017’s The Florida Project, the indie filmmaker has shown a special talent for displaying the weird and wonderful lives of American citizens who live on the outer fringes of society; the forgotten people passed over by the world.

"a thoroughly engrossing and uniquely funny characterization of a died-in-the-wool dreamer and the hometown that refuses to call him its own"

Though not a particularly unique filmmaking trademark – Gus Van Sant is certainly one of the best, few in Hollywood match Baker’s penchant for turning the most vile, disgusting individuals into leading characters we can’t help but love. And he does it again with his latest film, Red Rocket, a thoroughly engrossing and uniquely funny characterization of a died-in-the-wool dreamer and the hometown that refuses to call him its own.

Red Rocket stars actor, rapper, comedian, and former MTV VJ, Simon Rex as aged-out L.A. porn star Mikey who returns to his hometown in Texas City, Texas to regain his footing and plot his next move. With only twenty dollars and the clothes on his back, Mikey cons his way back into the home of his estranged wife Lexi (Bree Elrod), who he introduced to the adult film industry at a young age, and her mother, Lil (Brenda Deiss), neither of whom particularly ever wanted to see him again.

With his sketchy background and even sketchier work ethic, Mikey is unable to get a job in town, but soon hooks up with his old drug suppliers to earn money for his share of the rent. But when he catches the eye of 17-year-old donut shop employee named Strawberry (Suzanna Son), Mikey hatches a plan to return to L.A. with Strawberry as his ticket back into porno films.

If Mikey sounds like a total sleaze bag, it’s because he is. He’s a helpless man-child, and an ego-centric braggart constantly feeding into his own ego the idea that he’s actually on the verge of making it big again, when in reality he’s just a cheap suitcase pimp – a disgusting sex trafficker.Red Rocket

By all accounts we should absolutely loathe Mikey. And some of you will. But this is a Simon Baker film and Mikey is portrayed by Rex Simon. Together, the two have crafted a darkly comical tale that will enthrall even the most cynical viewers. Baker clearly loves his characters and Simon possesses the magical talent to capture our adoration for his Mikey without making us feel like we will go to Hell for hoping nothing bad happens to him.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Baker film if it didn’t incorporate the undiscovered talents of some local residents, including Deiss, local Gulf Coast chef Ethan Darbone as Lonnie, one of Mikey’s many enablers, and Brittney Rodriguez as June, the local backwards ball-cap-wearing drug enforcer. Baker’s decision pays off once again with great performances from everyone involved. He’s an actor’s director and proves, yet again, that he possesses the unique talent to coax the best from his cast.

As a filmmaker, Baker rarely ever takes the easy way out. After all, his fascination with the sex industry and its depiction in his films is not the most uncomplicated way to charm viewers. But with Red Rocket, his knack for turning a film about the adult entertainment industry into an unhinged, laugh-out-loud comedy is a much-appreciated comfort.

5/5 stars

Film Details

Red Rocket

MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and pervasive language.
130 mins
: Sean Baker
Sean Baker; Chris Bergoch
Simon Rex; Bree Elrod; Suzanna Son
: Comedy | Drama
A Sean Baker Film.
Memorable Movie Quote:
Theatrical Distributor:
Official Site:
Release Date:
December 25, 2021 (limited)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

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


Red Rocket