Thursday, December 21, 2006
build up some speed, don't shut your eyes, make sure that everyone in the train dies:
Let's talk about Rocky Balboa.

It manages to be worse -- way worse -- than even a revival of the Rocky franchise has a right to be. Truly, Rocky Balboa should be studied in courses on Derrida, because rarely has a film so undermined its own subtext. The painful, undisguised allegorical element of Rocky Balboa, of course, is Sylvester Stallone's inability to accept the end of his stardom. So he sends out an SOS to the past, calling on his most beloved character to tell you and I: Hey, if you wanna see Rocky still compete, and you know he ain't too old, well, I mean, I'm just sayin'...

The truth, however, is that Rocky has nothing to say beyond that vulgar screen-test message. Again and again the movie flirts with making its supporting characters real, or giving Rocky a broader pallete, but then decides... no. Should Mason "The Line" Dixon parallel Rocky, in the sense that neither of them got the respect they deserved? ... Nah, not really -- just give Rocky a guy to punch. Should Rocky's son show the same internal fortitude that Rocky himself showed in Rocky I, in order to bring the story full circle, and demonstrate that the boxing ring truly is an allegory? ... Nah, not really -- just give Milo Ventimiglia a couple scenes. OK, if we're not going to do that, should Steps become Rocky's surrogate son, and heir to his emotional strength? ... Nah, not really -- let's just have the audience laugh at Rocky's attempt to deal with an inter-racial teenager in 2006. All that's left is naked, manipulative references to the earlier movies: running up the steps, punching the carcasses in the meat locker, drinking the raw eggs, a sports-training montage. Suddenly it occurs: ah, so this is why Sylvester Stallone's career is over.

There were some enjoyable moments, if not many. I'm a sucker for dogs, and the movie features an adorable dog for a couple minutes of screen-time. There was also -- no, it was really just the dog. The dog, Punchy, is the highlight of the film. I suppose a close second is Max Kellerman's cameo, just because I went to summer camp with his brother Jack. Really not much beyond that. The two incredibly cute bartenders at Zengo gave me a free drink for suffering through the movie, and that wasn't bad. Ah well. Stallone should have done Rambo in Iraq instead.
--Spencer Ackerman
Give the people what they want..., but you made Rocky VI or Rambo IV sound like an either/or- unfortunately that is not the case.
Rambo IV: Pearl of the Cobra (2008)
Blogger joedokes | 8:14 AM

If someone who missed the '80s wanted to know about Rocky, I'd just direct them to 8 Mile and tell them to imagine it as a boxing movie instead. (Unless they wanted to know about geo-politics, in which case they have to bite the bullet and watch Rocky IV.)

Truth be told, though, both movies have killer soundtracks.

Don't even pretend you don't love that survivor shit. Stop frontin'.
Blogger Bill Smith | 12:53 PM

Every single promo I see just makes me say "why?" I mean, Sly looks awful, in spite, or perhaps because of the fact that he's in great shape. People are not supposed to look waxy.

But just remember, Spencer, if I can change, and you can change, then maybe we can all change.
Blogger Pooh | 1:19 PM