Sean Baker’s dedication to the lower socio-economic people of the South is what makes his films so unique. Red Rocket is the best of backwater Texas towns. The sleaziness is embedded on every line Simon Rex speaks and every action he takes. His magnetic performance as the suitcase pimp, still gleaming off his glory days in the adult film industry, is a real piece of work. Yet, he’s extraordinarily likeable for how much of a narcissistic piece of shit he really is.
Simon Rex is the beginning and end of this film, but thankfully, the cast fills up nicely to create a real lived-in small town Texas atmosphere. Suzanna Son, as the 17 year old Strawberry, is a scene stealing beauty with the nastiest disposition. Their bizarre and problematic relationship shouldn’t work on paper, but the two have the necessary chemistry to sink into the dynamic. As for the others, Bree Elrod (Lexi) plays her character damn near perfect. The cast of small time thinking ingrates, all trying to live their best life, are such a welcomed switch from the archetypal, stereotypical characters of most modern films. I’ll always appreciate Sean Baker’s films for that reason.
The AVN Award winner for best oral sex
It’s a film driven by character, so the cinematography and editing lends itself to Mikey Saber’s utterly bewildering train of thought. It’s a script that spends approximately 15% of its runtime talking about AVN’s (Adult Video Awards) that he should’ve won, while exhibiting an encyclopedic knowledge of the industry. The writing is funny, but it’s Simon Rex that brings out the best in this desperate porn star.
The location, the cinematography, acting, and so on are all grounded in the world Baker setup. It’s a place defined by the backdrop of factories, the rundown businesses, and general lack of action. The mall or a strip club are really all there is to do, outside of watching 24/7 Fox news blaring in the background. Baker establishes the setting in such a way that tells a story without having to focus on it, and doesn’t hide the sleaziness of this lower class depiction.
And the film is a horny mood from start to finish. It’s a story that spends a lot of the runtime worried about fucking. Whether that be Mikey Saber’s self-obsession with his work, or hooking up with Lexi, the film moves to the beat of normal, healthy desire for sex. It’s a film that indulges in the finer sports of life uninhibited. The fact that Sean Baker fully commits to the idea behind this character makes this such an enjoyable experience. It’s a amount stupid fun.
The audience will see Mikey through their own perspective, but the characters see him as a beacon. A beacon of never ending self-confidence and naivety. He’s a spring overflowing with life to give away, still chasing adolescent dreams. It’s one of the sleaziest main characters ever constructed, but that’s what makes him great.